Categories
The Internet Writing

With a blog, everything is a prompt

Liked Derek Powazek 🐐 (@fraying@xoxo.zone) (XOXO Zone)

The reason why retweet-style post creation is important is because it turns every post into a prompt.

Normal people need prompts. And social tools like Mastodon need normal people participating.

A blog with IndieWeb tools means that everything on the internet becomes a prompt. The entire Internet is my fuel for thought and writing, not just whatever people shared today on the socials. Everything is part of the “conversation” I’m “participating in” — just today, I’ve used a Mastodon post, email newsletters, and blog post as prompts — all from my home base online.

Of course, anyone on social media can pull in content from outside the silo — but that extra step adds friction. There’s a reason so many people are lurkers.

The practice of writing builds and reinforces an engaged, participatory mindset. The more you write commentary on whatever you feel like, the more comfortable you feel doing it: a virtuous cycle of writing and thinking.

In reading others’ debates over QTs in recent months, I’ve realized this is one of my main ways of interacting with content online: the quote as inspiration for another train of thought. “Reply” is not a good description of much of what I write here; I’d class most of my posts more as commentary than direct response. (To that end, I often post writing others might consider a reply as a like instead. My blog isn’t synced into the Fediverse, so this comment won’t feed back there — but that’s fine because I’m treating his post about QTs as a QT 😉)

A blog also feels like a safer place to write than social media; it’s a space I control, I’m not constrained by character count so I can add nuance, and it’s less subject to context collapse given the formats readers consume it (directly or via RSS). Sure, I reach fewer people, but virality is not something I want. Quality over quantity. (I might prefer a little more feedback than I get now, but I love my current approach to blogging too much to quit at this point.)

Categories
Meta The Internet Websites Writing

A decentered argument as website

This whole website nicely complements what I was contemplating recently about blogs.

Some relevant pages:

The bookness of books

Toward a nonlinear essay

You won’t find an instruction manual for writing a nonlinear essay in any of the pieces in this collection. And you won’t find a full argument for writing differently in any single piece, either. But my hope is that both of those things will arise out of the whole collection.

On the virtues of hypertext

In other words, the links matter more than the text.

Brown contrasts the glories of the hypertext web with the relative order of the the social media feed. The feed corrals the unkempt wildness of the web and organizes it all into a nice little stream, filtering out all the noise…

Categories
Cool Technology The Internet Websites

A website devoted to NYC internet infrastructure

Liked Seeing Networks in New York City by Ingrid Burrington (seeingnetworks.in)

New York’s network infrastructure is a lot like the city itself: messy, sprawling, and at times near-incomprehensible. However, the city’s tendency toward flux is a strange blessing for the infrastructure sightseer: markings and remnants of the network are almost everywhere, once you know how to look for them.

And book!

It’s fun to stumble on dedicated little web projects like this. It’s such a niche project that only someone who really cared would bother making it.

Makes me think of a tweet I saw recently that the world is basically made of people’s random passion projects.

Categories
Society The Internet

Critical Ignoring

Bookmarked Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens by Kozyreva et al (journals.sagepub.com)

Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage, or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content. We argue that digital information literacy must include the competence of critical ignoring—choosing what to ignore and where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities. We review three types of cognitive strategies for implementing critical ignoring: self-nudging, in which one ignores temptations by removing them from one’s digital environments; lateral reading, in which one vets information by leaving the source and verifying its credibility elsewhere online; and the do-not-feed-the-trolls heuristic, which advises one to not reward malicious actors with attention.

As important as the ability to think critically continues to be, we argue that it is insufficient to borrow the tools developed for offline environments and apply them to the digital world.

Investing effortful and conscious critical thinking in sources that should have been ignored in the first place means that one’s attention has already been expropriated (Caulfield, 2018). Digital literacy and critical thinking should therefore include a focus on the competence of critical ignoring: choosing what to ignore, learning how to resist low-quality and misleading but cognitively attractive information, and deciding where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities.

This is like a “to don’t” list — deciding what to ignore.

Lateral reading begins with a key insight: One cannot necessarily know how trustworthy a website or a social-media post is by engaging with and critically reflecting on its content. Without relevant background knowledge or reliable indicators of trustworthiness, the best strategy for deciding whether one can believe a source is to look up the author or organization and the claims elsewhere… Instead of dwelling on an unfamiliar site (i.e., reading vertically), fact-checkers strategically and deliberately ignored it until they first opened new tabs to search for information about the organization or individual behind it.

 

Via Paul Millerd:

A common heuristic for many is to pay attention to what other people are talking about. This worked well enough for most people for a long time but it seems to be [failing(?)] in an age of information overload because of how fast the “current thing” changes.

This is my approach too — I like the way he phrases it in feeding his curiosity:

My approach instead is to follow individuals and I try to think about this like a diversified portfolio of information, optimizing for the long-term aliveness of my own curiosity.

Categories
Meta The Internet Websites

Understanding blogs

As we in the IndieWeb promote personal websites and encourage more people to write and publish online, and nostalgia for blogs and RSS is high, it’s useful to hone in on what exactly we’re talking about when we say blog.* Because, despite being a form of writing for more than 20 years, blogging is surprisingly hard to pin down.**

There are just a few truly defining characteristics of a blog:

  • Content is published in the form of posts, typically presented in reverse chronological order
  • Content is posted on a website, online, with hypertextual capabilities
  • Blogs are “self-published,” regardless of hosting platform, in that there is no gatekeeper authorizing publication

And yet, I think what makes a blog a blog is more than these technicalities; what makes a book a book is not merely “prose text, more than 50,000 words in length, on a single thesis or theme, collected in a single volume.” Printing off a long blog and binding it together does not necessarily a book make; for one, books are weighted towards linear reading — start to finish — while blog posts do not have to be read in the order they were originally published.

There are elements of bookness that make us say, this is a book. So what is blogness? From one of the many ‘yay let’s blog again’ posts everyone’s blogging about right now (which I enjoy), I wound up on a 2003 post trying to define what a blog is — but it addresses mainly the technical elements and the structure of the content. Blogging as a medium evolved out of the combination of technology and tools used; here, I’m interested in digging into how the writing and format are different from other mediums.

I’m a fan of graphic novels, and consider them a different medium than prose books; it pisses me off that graphic novels and graphic non-fiction are shelved with the comic strips at my library under 741.5. So I wonder: are blogs a distinct enough format to be their own top-level medium, or are they simply a hypertextual version of essay collections or newspapers?*** Where would you shelve blogs in the library: do they get mixed in with the books by topic, do they get their own call number as graphic novels do, are they thrown in with the periodicals, or do they go in their own section? @DavidShanske I’m sure you have an opinion here 😉

Categories
Culture Technology The Internet

Personality shaped by the algorithm

Emphasis mine.

The blandness of TikTok’s biggest stars by Rebecca Jennings (Vox)

[P]op culture is being increasingly determined by algorithms… [W]hat we’re seeing is the lowest common denominator of what human beings want to look at, appealing to our most base impulses and exploiting existing biases toward thinness, whiteness, and wealth.

TikTok fame celebrates a different kind of mediocrity, though, the kind where “relatability” means adhering to the internet’s fluctuating beauty standards and approachable upper-middle-classness and never saying anything that might indicate a personality.

+

What Works by Tara McMullin

Creators are basing their livelihoods on the performance of an identity through the expression of their knowledge, experiences, or talents.

As our actions are influenced by what Richard Seymour dubs the twittering machine, our identities are revealed to us by the algorithm. Not only does the machine tell us who we are and who we will become, it turns around and sells us the symbols of the identity. My identity is commodified in an instant. Who I Am and What I Do On the Internet can feel like an act of self-expression, but they are more likely artifacts of conformity.

Categories
The Internet Websites

Pass it on

Bookmarked Rewilding Your Attention (CJ Eller)

Tom’s message makes me realize that rewilding attention is an active practice. One must not only pursue those tiny signals but share them as well, whether that means writing about them on your blog or by word of mouth. The only way the tiny signal can keep on resonating throughout the web is if we keep passing it on.

Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network.

— Tom Critchlow, Small b blogging

Categories
Technology The Internet

Smartphones consume rest

Liked Out of time by Mandy Brown (newsletter.aworkinglibrary.com)

Phones (and, I’d argue, other digital technology, and social media in particular) have an abundant sense of restlessness—I feel as if I am scurrying from one notification to the next like a hunted animal, one item in the feed, after another, after another, never stopping or lingering. Never resting. The word says it: restless, as in, without rest. The technology consumes all the in-between moments, all the seconds where you might close your eyes, stare out a window, sigh loudly. Wonder if a timer is moving or stuck.

In this way, smartphones consume rest.

I got a Time Timer and did the exact same thing, except I thought it was broken 😂

Categories
The Internet

I asked Substack to add Webmention support

The IndieWeb has had some success in asking nicely for platforms to support web standards — Tumblr recently incorporated microformats into their standard template — so I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask Substack to add Webmention support. I don’t expect them to say yes, but it would be great to have native support instead of manually reposting (POSSEing) in the comments there. And each place that adds support makes it easier to convince another.

Here’s what I posted as a comment, hopefully I conveyed how Webmention works accurately 😂:

Has Substack ever considered adding support for Webmentions? They are recommended by the W3C as a component of an interoperable web, so Substackers could connect with the greater internet community of writers and creators. Adding support for Webmentions could build an even richer conversation between writers across the web. When a Substack newsletter linked to a blog post, the writer of the blog would get notified, so they could join in the conversation. If a blogger linked or replied to a Substack article from their blog, the author could see that along with other comments made directly on Substack. Likewise if a Substack newsletter linked to someone else’s Substack article, their article could be displayed with the original, so it would be easy for readers of the linked article to hear about and discover a new Substack newsletter.

I am concerned that with all the features Substack is adding — chat, podcasting, internal mentions, internal recommendations — they are becoming more and more of an insulated silo. An open web benefits all users, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit silo owners who want to keep all traffic internal. However, because Substack’s revenue is based on subscriptions rather than advertising, I’m hopeful they’d be receptive to the opportunity for discovery and engagement that Webmentions could foster.

There are also plenty of bloggers who also write newsletters, so it could be good PR for Substack among bloggers after the negative press from last spring (IIRC) of funding support voices of hate.

Categories
The Internet Writing

A better word for blogging?

Replied to Bring Back Blogging by Chris Coyier (chriscoyier.net)

I wonder if the term “blog” has too much baggage. Too much history for it to really catch on again and make a dent.

Maybe “publish your own feed” is a better framing.

On the one hand, it’s nice to have a specific word for writing on the internet, on your own website… but I agree that for most people blogging likely has a specific connotation that doesn’t reflect the kind of writing they do online. I doubt most people tweeting or writing on Mastodon think of themselves as microblogging.

So how about just calling it writing online? I know a lot of people don’t think of themselves as writers when they post online, but it still could have fewer prescribed notions than blogging.

There’s also simply posting (on your own site) which borrows the language for sharing content on social media, and is medium-agnostic so it could cover writing and photography and video and audio.

I also like explicitly framing posting your own writing on your own website as self-publishing — though the idea of publishing might sound weightier than writing online need be.