Sunday Paper

Ben Werdmuller experiences burnout from social media and vows to prioritize meaningful tasks. Pi competes with GPT-4 and aims for user progress-based revenue.

To mitigate burnout, I have my Apple devices set to limit my social media, whether web or native apps, to just 1 hour per day. In Social, I love you, but you’re bringing me down Ben Werdmuller realises he's burned out, stressed, and sleepless due to excessive social media use. He considers the overwhelming volume of platforms, the changing nature of social media, and his personal goals. He plans to focus more on meaningful tasks and writing for himself to reclaim his attention and autonomy.

Generative AI is advancing quickly with many players in the market. Pi, an AI assistant by Inflection, now competes with GPT-4, matching quality with lower compute usage. CEO Suleyman cites Pi's growth to 1 million daily users, envisioning a paid model based on user progress. However, he cautions against humanizing AI. Despite AI's progress, pioneers like Suleyman urge cautious advancement amidst potential pitfalls.

What is a silo?

Disagreeing with Jatan Mehta, I argue that's domain ownership and content portability offer effective audience engagement and control.

I read Jatan Mehta's argument about, and while I respect his perspective, I must respectfully disagree with some of his statements. Let me offer a rebuttal to address the concerns in his article Medium, and social platforms are siloes you should try avoiding.

Jatan Mehta asserts that blogging on platforms like can lead to being "semi-locked-in" regarding owning the connection to your audience. He’s conveniently found a way to apply the "semi-locked-in" label to by focusing on how mailing lists are managed. He argues that social media platforms often make it difficult to move your followers to a new platform and that and Medium have adopted similar tactics, hindering portability. He conveniently ignores that as long as you own your domain, your "followers" can always find you.

Before I start, one major issue with Jatan's article is the comparison of, a blogging platform and content management system, with microblogging and social messaging platforms like It's crucial to recognise that doesn't include any social messaging features – it never has. He might as well be comparing pawpaw and papaya. I don’t think anyone in the IndieWeb community would apply the word "silo" to self-hosted WordPress websites.

While I understand the concern about maintaining a connection with your audience, Jatan's argument overlooks some important aspects of using and similar blogging platforms. Let's delve into these points:

  1. Standardisation and Portability: Jatan acknowledges that blogs are largely standardised, allowing easy movement from one platform to another. This is even easier if your website has a domain name. This is a crucial advantage of blogging platforms like Unlike social media platforms, where your content's fate is tied to the platform's existence, a blog can be exported in a format other platforms can understand. Thus, even if were to suspend your account (an unlikely scenario for most users who adhere to platform guidelines), you still have the option to take your content and migrate it elsewhere without losing your valuable thoughts and contributions.
  2. Audience Ownership: Jatan raises concerns about owning the connection with your readers and followers on The idea that you "own your followers" bothers me. While it's true that some blogging platforms, such as Medium, force you to retain followers within their ecosystem, it's essential to consider that your primary means of communication with your audience on is through your content – your blog posts. Your readers subscribe to your blog and follow you (via RSS) to receive updates directly from you. While there might be other mechanisms like "Follow" buttons or email subscription lists, the heart of your connection with your audience remains rooted in the content you produce, not just the platform-specific features. Regarding Jatan's notion of exporting his followers and forcing them to follow him on another platform is far-fetched. How exactly does he plan to make that work? Again, The idea that you "own your followers" bothers me.
  3. Diverse Engagement Options: provides multiple avenues for engaging with your audience. While some may prefer direct email subscriptions or RSS feeds, others might find value in following your blog through the platform's built-in "Follow" mechanism. Different people have different preferences, and offering a variety of options can be advantageous in reaching a broader audience. Automattic has acquired the ActivityPub plug-in! With this development, I'm confident that will soon be able to facilitate rich conversations with Mastodon instances. This integration holds great promise for enhancing the platform's capabilities and fostering more dynamic interactions across the web. Remember that engagement methods should complement one another rather than create a rigid either/or choice.
  4. Medium's Algorithmic Challenge: Jatan highlights his struggles with Medium's algorithm, which impacts the visibility of his posts to his followers. While algorithmic challenges can affect content reach on some platforms, this is not an inherent limitation of all blogging platforms, including and The reach on is noticeably lower compared to other platforms. The community size is relatively small, and Manton's intentional design choices constrain the behaviours that expand reach., for instance, provides various ways to optimise your content's discoverability, such as SEO tools, tags, and categories, but the platform lacks any algorithmic system. Engaging with your audience through is a more direct and transparent process compared to social media algorithms, where your content's reach is often at the mercy of platform-specific algorithms.
  5. RSS and Email: Jatan mentions RSS and email subscribers as the solution to platform lock-in. He’s on the right path to how to avoid platform lock-in, whether or otherwise. He conveniently ignores that supports both. supports RSS follows via JetPack’s Reader. They call this feature "follow". As a user, I can follow any blog vis RSS feed, whether hosted on or Anyone can sign-up to get my newsletter. They don’t need a account to do so. When I want to leave, I can export all the email addresses to a CSV file and import them into my new platform. I can export all my JetPack Reader follows as an OPML file and follows those blog in another RSS aggregator.
  6. Comments: There's an important distinction to be made when leaving comments on posts versus websites. On, leaving a comment to a blog post requires having a account, whereas on, no account is needed to leave a comment. relies on the Akismet service, which has proven incredibly effective in keeping spam at bay. After over 20 years of using WordPress, I can confidently say that Akismet has not failed me. It's a reliable tool that ensures the comments section remains a clean and engaging space for readers and bloggers alike.

Manton wrote about silos in his book:

Not all centralized services are silos. The key trait of silos is isolation. Silos wall-off and limit our control over content, usually by storing all content at the silo’s own domain name rather than allowing personal domain names.

Jatan's's preference for email and RSS-based direct engagement with his audience is valid. I’ve always encouraged my readers to use RSS. Additionally, the portability and standardisation of blogs ensure that my content remains under my control. While platforms may offer additional engagement options, the primary connection with your audience lies in the value of your content. Embracing diverse methods of engaging with your audience can amplify your reach and impact, making blogging platforms like valuable tools for building an online presence and sharing your thoughts with the world.

As Manton said in his book under the section, Owning your content.

I think in the tech world — and especially as programmers — we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. We know too much about content ownership, most of it irrelevant for mainstream users.

If you want to control your content on the web, post it at your own personal domain name. That’s it. Everything else you want to do is icing on the cake.

Owning your content isn’t about portable software. It’s about portable URLs and data. It’s about domain names.

When you write and post photos at your own domain name, your content can outlive any one blogging platform. In all the years of blogging at, I’ve switched blogging platforms and hosting providers a few times. The posts and URLs can all be preserved through those changes because it’s my own domain name.

If you can’t use your own domain name, you can’t own it. Your content will be forever stuck at those silo URLs, beholden to the whims of the algorithmic timeline and shifting priorities of the executive team.

I’ve had my domain for over 20 years, and this blog has lived on UserLand Manila, Blogger,, and MoveableType before I settled on self-hosted WordPress. I'll never be locked in as long as I can export my content and my audience can access RSS.

NOTE: Both @moonmehta and I are part of the community. I supported the original Kickstarter! However, it's worth mentioning that my primary website is self-hosted WordPress. For those interested in a self-hostable, single-user, IndieWeb-friendly open-source software microblogging platform that you 100% control, check out

Something for nothing?

Doing well while doing good by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

By now, the adage that "if you're not the customer, you're the product being sold" is pretty old hat. But it remains the case that everyone has to eat and pay for a roof over their heads, and that businesses need to make a profit. Software isn't made by magical elves who can live without being paid. Nothing is actually free. If a service isn't making enough money up-front, they have to make up the difference through other means, whether it's by placing invasive advertising, selling user datasets, making "data partnerships", or all of the above.

Arguably revenue won't be enough to stop them in itself: where profit can be made, it will be. We need strong legislative consumer protections to prevent this kind of user betrayal. But once the industry has cleaned up its act, sustainable revenue practices will need to be in place to support the services we use every day.

A subscription is $60/year. For A fee, could Facebook or Twitter build a viable business around their current service if they removed all reliance on data mining and advertising? In other-words, if these companies addressed all the privacy issues that most people complain about, if they moderated (a.k.a. censored) all the content, if they removed the manipulative algorithms, would the general public be willing to pay for the service? Or does the general public want something for nothing?