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
Getting Shit Done Meta Technology

Use different tools for creation and consumption

Replied to

I just realized I have mostly  migrated consumption to my phone somewhat unintentionally — but because I read articles on my phone I also tend to compose my commentary on the phone as well, even though typing on my phone sucks 😂 The editor is also hard to use on my phone, and cutting and pasting doesn’t work correctly, so I edit less than I might on desktop. On my phone, I can only see about two sentences at a time, making it harder to write longer form work.

How much does the tool shape what content people produce? Considering many people no longer have desktops and solely use phones for computing, does lacking a PC deter them from writing? How much of the shift to video is because it’s simpler to film than type on phones? How much is the rise of microblogging and descent of blogging tied to smartphones?

Categories
Business Marketing The Internet

Content marketing has become hollow signaling

Liked Media, Messages, and Meaning: Is it time to rethink content marketing? by Tara McMullinTara McMullin (explorewhatworks.com)

At one time, Medium was the place I visited to discover new ideas and fresh writers.
I don’t know what it’s like on other people’s feeds, of course. But when I visit the feed of articles that Medium suggests to me today, I’m not just underwhelmed. I’m often appalled.

While there is a straightforward meaning to the message contained by the medium, the medium itself contributes another message. That second message, and for McLuhan, the more influential of the two, is character.
The medium conveys both the straightforward message and a certain character that informs how we relate to it.

Williams dreamed of making Medium synonymous with quality, depth, and thoughtfulness. But the message Medium delivers today colors many of its posts as clickbaity and attention-seeking.

Articles like the ones I listed above…aren’t meant to be examined in detail, either. They’re designed to create a certain effect: i.e., conveying the appearance of expertise, usefulness, and/or value.

Yes! This puts a finger on what bothers me about so much headline writing, and so many articles: I can tell from the title of the post that it will be substanceless. Somehow, there will be a 1000+ word article composed of nothingness, from which I’ll learn and recall precisely nothing.

So much online writing circles around the same type of mildly repellant business productivity and creativity advice — all selling the get rich quick mentality with a recipe for success. In a capitalist world, that story has draw — we are all busting our asses and getting nowhere. Yet it’s terminally empty; a few words of advice cannot change a system, and probably also can’t help most people get ahead in that system.

The internet has become a diluted sea of bland 101 content, quoting the same sources, adding the same vapid life stories to try to force personal connection. Everyone desperately signalling, a twisted capitalist version of mating signals: pick me! Pick me! The textual equivalent of a ruff of fluorescent feathers, the payoff receiving work rather than passing on genes: individual survival, not reproduction. It reminds me of the proposal to eliminate mosquitoes by releasing sterile males into the wild to breed with the females, burning out their reproductive lifespans. We’re distracted by the overwhelming drone of valueless, impersonal writing: junk food of the mind.

So now, writers need to learn how to signal the opposite to discerning readers: to promise something worthwhile and convince people to read without looking like content mill pablum. To demonstrate respect for readers’ time, to offer real connection, to write and share something worth the reading. This is the slow path, the path of patience, requiring a long-term commitment to the practice of writing and thinking.

Categories
The Internet Websites

Analog Meets Online: Session Thoughts

Replied to IndieWeb Popup: Analog Meets Online (indieweb.org)

How do the fun and potential of our personal websites, and the connection of online community, extend into our offline lives and spaces? How are people playing with the boundaries of virtual and offline life? How can websites enhance physical places, things and events?

Let’s share our analog-virtual projects and ideas (and examples you’ve seen), explore what excites us about the future, discuss how online and in-person community and events interface and enhance each other, and reflect on bigger picture questions about the blending of these spheres in our lives and society.

This was a fun session! Although I booked it for two hours, we wound up talking for nearly three 😂 Lots of interesting ideas and perspectives and discussion.

How to meet people / show you’re open to meeting people online

Virtual calling card <– is that like pinging a webmention to someone’s homepage? 🤔 Or was that the intent of Guestbooks back in the day? As a reader of a lot of historic fiction, it tickles my fancy to think of a virtual version of Visiting Hours when people could leave their card if you weren’t home to let you know they came, and/or you’d be sure to be around to see whoever came… which leads to:

Virtual office hours that people can book to talk with you — I think I saw someone offering this in their email footer? Something like they reserved an hour or two a week and people could book 15-minute slots with them? Can’t find it now…

Drop-in unprogrammed live video calls –> online public spaces?

Categories
Art and Design

Torn Prints

Finding myself drawn to these recombined prints. Mashup culture come to the art world. Kintsugi in print. Artistic destruction and recreation. Mutant art, offspring. Love.

Sir Mitchell calls these mashups “bastards”
Fucking Vote print composed of six layers of torn prints in three colorways
A special edition of many layers of prints by Ricky Watts