Brief thoughts on receiving read posts

oblique view of a book on which someone has laid their black rimmed glasses

I’ve been posting “read” posts/notes/links–reads, for simplicity– to my own website for a while to indicate articles and material which I’ve spent the time to read online (and oftentimes even offline). While I automatically send notifications (via webmentions or trackbacks/pingbacks) to notify the original articles, few sites know how to receive them and even less actively display them.

It’s only in the last few weeks that my site has actively begun receiving these read posts, and I have to say it’s a really lovely and heartwarming experience. While my site gets several hundreds of hits per day, and even comments, likes and other interactions, there’s just something additionally comforting in knowing that someone took the time to read some of my material and posted that fact to their own website as a reminder to themselves as well as a signal to others.

Mentally there’s a much larger value in receiving these than likes or tweets with links from Twitter, in part because there’s a larger indicator of “work” behind these signals. They’re not simply an indicator that “I saw the headline of this thing somewhere and shared it because the friction of doing so was ridiculously low”, but they represent a lot of additional time, effort, and energy and thus are a stronger and more valuable signal (both to me and hopefully to others.)

I suppose I’ll eventually need to preface that these are especially interesting to me now when I’m only getting small numbers of them from particular people who I know are deeply engaging with specific portions of my past work. I can also imagine a day when these too may become spam-like, and I (or others) are inundated with them. But for now I’ll just revel in their joyous, little warmth.

It’s interesting from my website’s administrative interface to see the path individuals are taking through my thoughts and which topics they may find interesting. I don’t think that many (any?) social media silos provide these types of views which may actually help to spark future conversations based on our shared interests.

Of course I must also admit that, as nice as these read notifications have been, they actually pale in comparison to the rest of the work that the particular sender has been doing in replicating large portions of the sorts of things I’m doing on and with my website.  I hope all of our work, experimenting, and writing is infectious and will help others out in the future.

6 thoughts on “Brief thoughts on receiving read posts”

  1. I enjoy reading your posts, Chris. I find them informative. I always learn something new and interesting.

    I noticed your “recent activity” graph in the footer of this post. How is that generated and what does it measure?

    1. Inspired a bit by the work of Jeremy Keith and others, I’ve recently been playing around with some sparklines on my website. While tinkering around with things, mostly on the back end of my site, I’ve tried out several WordPress-specific plugins, both to see how they’re built and the user interfaces they provide. 
      There are several simple plugins for adding sparklines to WordPress websites including:

      Activity Sparks plugin by Greg Jackson which adds some configurable functionality for adding sparklines to WordPress sites including for posts and comments as well as for tracking categories/tags.

      Sparkplug by Beau Lebens has similarity to the Activity Sparks plugin (above), but with a slightly older looking and somewhat less refined output.

      At present, I’m using the Activity Sparks plugin in my sidebar to display the recent activity on my site in terms of my posting frequency and the comment frequency. One chart provides the daily activity on my site over the past 3 months while the other provides the monthly activity over the past 5 years.
      When on particular category pages, you can see the posting velocity for those particular categories in these respective time periods. While on the homepage and other miscellaneous pages, you can see the aggregate numbers for the website.
      Generally I don’t care very much about the statistics, but in aggregate they can sometimes be fun to look at. As quick examples, I can tell roughly by looking at the 5 year time span when I added certain posting features to my website or that time my site got taken down by HackerNews.

      hat tip to Khürt Williams who reminded me I needed to circle back around and finish of a small piece of this project and document it.

      Syndicated copies to:

  2. I know when I’m being submentioned.
    Chris, I’m glad to hear that my read posts are both heartwarming and providing useful data. I think they reveal as much about how I read as they reveal about anything else. As you may have guessed, I’m working my way down your IndieWeb research page, with some forays into your most recent posts here and there. I saw this one because I subscribed to your firehose in Inoreader.
    I like having paths to follow, and it’s been inordinately helpful to be able to follow the ones you’ve laid out. Thank you for all the sharing you do!

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