I’ve been reading through a series of essays on Blogging Infrastructure that are part of CJ Eller’s Blogging Futures. There are some interesting ideas hiding in there including the idea of a blogchain, which appears to have originated on Venkatesh Rao’s site Ribbon Farm. As best as I can tell it amounts to linking series of blog posts by potentially multiple authors into a linear long form piece. It reminds me of the idea of a webring, but instead of being random (though some may have historically been completely linear in nature), they’ve got slightly more structure, and instead of linking entire websites, they’re linking posts on a particular idea or topic.
I’ve also seen some tangential mentions among the Blogging Futures crowd of Webmention, which is essentially a standardized web technology that allows notifications or @mentions between websites on different domains and running completely different software. I know that Tom Critchlow, who is a memeber of the blogchain, has recently set up webmentions, so I’m curious to hear his impression of what a blogchain means after he’s begun using webmention. (Difficultly, he’s using a static site generator, which will tend to make his experience with them a tad more fraught compared with services that have it built in or available by simple plugins.) To me there’s more value in combining the two ideas of Webmention and blogchain wherein each post is able to webmention the other posts within a particular blogchain and thereby create a broader web of related ideas.
Of course this is all very similar to ideas like IndieNews and Kicks Condor’s IndieWeb.xyz aggregation hub which allow users to post to them by means of Webmention. In some sense this allows for a central repository or hub that collects links to all of the responses for those who want to to participate. These responses could obviously be sorted by topic (aka tag/category), author, and even date. Naturally if each post includes links to all the other pieces in such a blogchain, and all the sites accept and display webmentions, then there will be a more weblike chain of discussion of the topic rather than a more linear one.
I’m not aware of it being done, but I’ve always sort of wished that someone would add webmention support to a wiki platform. Many has been the time I wish I could have added a link into the See also section of the IndieWeb wiki simply by linking to a particular page and sending a webmention. Lots of my online documentation references that wiki and it would be wonderfully useful for links to my content to automatically show up there. Later, others could add some of my content back into the wiki in a more fully fleshed out way, but at least the references would be there. Imagine how the world’s knowledge would be expanded if a larger wiki like Wikipedia had the ability to accept incoming links this way!?
I’ll mention that both the aggregation hubs and the wikis can help to serve as somewhat more centralized means of discovery on the web, which also helps to fuel idea and content production.
All the people I know who have added Webmention have generally fallen in love with it as a new means of posting into and interacting within a rejuvenated blogosphere. There’s more power in posting to one’s own website while still being able to interact in a more social sort of way.