Thoughts on Jeet Heer’s Can We Bring Back Blogging?

Jeet Heer recently wrote a piece (on Substack) entitled Can We Bring Back Blogging? where he waxed a bit nostalgic for the old blogosphere.

This makes me wonder: did blogging die off because the tools changed?

Everyone had their own space on the internet and the internet itself was the medium which opened up the conversation. I could use WordPress while someone else might have been on Blogger, Moveable Type, Live Journal, TypePad, or something they made in HTML themselves.

Now it’s all siloed off into tinier spaces where content is trapped for eyeballs and engagement and there’s not nearly as much space for expression. Some of the conversation is broken up into 280 character expressions on Twitter, some on Instagram, and now people are aggregating content inside Substack. Substack at least has a feed I can subscribe to and a free form box to add a reply.

I appreciate Jeff’s comment about the “flywheel of social media”. We’re definitely going to need something like that to help power any resurgence of the blogosphere. I also like to think of it in the framing of “thought spaces” where the idea of a blog is to give yourself enough space to form a coherent idea and make an actual argument. Doing that is much harder to do on a microblog where the responses are also similarly limited. It just feels so rude to post 250 words in reply to a sentence or two that probably needed more space to express itself too.

I suspect that if we want a real resurgence of thought and discourse online, we’re going to need some new tools to do it. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously conceded to his friend Heinrich Köselitz “You are right — our writing tools take part in the forming of our thoughts.”

It would help if we could get back to the bare metal of the internet in which to freely operate again. Substack at least feels close to that, though it could be much better.

Can we have a conversational medium that isn’t constrained by a handful of corporate silos that don’t allow conversation across boundaries? Can we improve the problems of context collapse we’re seeing in social media?

I’d like to think that some of the building blocks the IndieWeb movement has built might help guide the way. I love their idea of Webmention notifications that allow one site to mention another regardless of the platforms on which they’re built. Their Micropub posting tools abstract away the writing and posting experience to allow you to pick and choose your favorite editor. They’ve got multiple social reader tools to let you follow the people and content you’re interested in and reply to things directly in the reader. I presented a small proof of concept at a recent education conference, for those who’d like to see what that experience looks like today.

Perhaps if more platforms opened up to these ideas and tools, we might be able to return, but with a lot more freedom and flexibility than we had in the nostalgic blogosphere?

Yet, we’ll still be facing the human work of interacting and working together. There are now several magnitudes of order more people online than there were in the privileged days of the blogosphere. We’re still going to need to solve for that. Perhaps if everyone reads and writes from their own home on the web, they’re less likely to desecrate their neighbor’s blog because it sticks to their own identity?

There’s lots of work to be done certainly, but perhaps we’ll get there by expanding things, opening them up, and giving ourselves some more space to communicate?

Read “Domain of One’s Own” für alle Learning Professionals? by Karlheinz Pape (Corporate Learning Community)
Wir sind inzwischen alle auch zu Bewohnern dieses “Neulands” Internet geworden. Die meisten von uns sind dort als Mieter unterwegs und posten bei anderen Eigentümern. Wer im Internet eine Domain be…

What does this have to do with learning?
We have always made notes while studying. In the past only for ourselves. Today it is becoming more and more common to share these notes with others, which becomes easy when you take the notes digitally. If many share their thoughts, then I get a lot of suggestions. My development goes faster, see also this blog post about it .
“If I want to work on a new topic, I write a blog post about it.” I’ve heard it from quite a few. This public writing forces me to confidently verify what I have said. After all, I don’t want to embarrass myself. That means I need three times as much time for the blog post as if I just wrote it down for myself. This extra time spent working on the topic is learning time. And when I publish the post, I give others the chance to benefit from it as well – and the chance to receive feedback that will help me advance on the topic.
My contributions can be text contributions, videos, podcasts or slides. I can link to sources. And I can find it again in my domain – even after years. And when I’ve shared it, others can search for it and use it too. 

Rough translation via Google Translate ^^

This is a good description about how working in public can be beneficial to oneself, even if no one else is looking.
Annotated on April 11, 2021 at 05:37PM

Read Writing on the web by Khaled Abou Alfa (kaa.bz)
While going through my Twitter archive, I realised several things which are going to greatly inform the way I write on the web in the future: While linklogging is fun, easy and in many ways the fabric that makes up the internet, it’s existence is fleeting. Maybe that link will remain valid for 10 ...
A lot of this resonates with me. On links, it is often the reason I was interested in it in the first place that’s the most important.

The nostalgia factor is very valuable to me, but it also means you need an easy means for not only looking back, but regular reminders to do so.

Owning your stuff: hopefully my stance on this is obvious.

I’m not sure I agree so much with the taxonomy stance. I find it helpful to have it for search and review, the tougher part is doing it consistently with terms that are important to you.

jacky in #indieweb 2021-04-02 ()

Read 15 rules for blogging, and my current streak by Matt WebbMatt Webb (Interconnected)

So here they are, my personal rules for blogging.

  1. Three posts a week, more or less.
  2. One idea per post. If I find myself launching into another section, cut and paste the extra into a separate draft post, and tie off the original one with the word “Anyway.” Then publish.
  3. No hedging, no nuance. If I’m getting in a twist about a sentence, take it out.
  4. Give up on attempting to be right.
  5. Give up on providing full links and citations.
  6. Give up on saying anything new. Most people haven’t read my old stuff. Play the hits.
  7. Give up on trying to be popular. I try not to filter myself based on what I believe will be popular. Some of my favourite posts get ignored. Some posts get popular and I have no idea why. Besides, terrible posts get buried fast if I’m posting three times a week. So post with abandon.
  8. Give up on trying to be interesting. Readers will come to my site for what’s interesting to me, or not, it’s fine, just say what I think about whatever I’m thinking about.
  9. But make it work for a general audience.
  10. Only write what’s in my head at that exact moment. It’s 10x faster.
  11. If it’s taking too long to write, stop.
  12. Don’t use a post just to link to something elsewhere. If there’s a point to make, start with that.
  13. Titles should be descriptive and have the flavour of the post. And rewrite the lede once the post is done so the whole thing gets to the point faster.
  14. It’s ok not to blog if it feels like a chore.
  15. Writing is a muscle.
Replied to Why I Started Microblogging by Bryan Bryan (Bryan Sebesta)
So, I’ve started to microblog. I was inspired by Alan Jacobs’ recent article, getting back to the open web via micro.blog. One of the big reasons he supports starting a microblog this way is is because he owns the content; it’s part of his own domain, his turf. And that’s appealing to me. Ad...
Welcome to the game Bryan! Curious why you’re hosting your microblog separate from your main site instead of running them both from WordPress (not that you need to/have to)?

I’ve enjoyed linkblogging. When I read something, I can share the link along with a quote or reflection on how it affected me. It’s a great space to think out loud. 

Annotated on August 05, 2020 at 01:51PM

As Austin Kleon notes, blogging is a great way to discover what you have to say. My microblog has given me a chance to have thoughts, and this longer blog has given me a space to figure out what it means–to discover what it is I have to say. In other words, my microblog is where I collect the raw materials; my blog is where I assemble them into questions and, perhaps, answers. It’s a place where I figure out what I really think. 

Annotated on August 05, 2020 at 01:54PM

Read Andrew Sullivan: See You Next Friday (Intelligencer)
If the mainstream media will not host a diversity of opinion, then the nonmainstream needs to pick up the slack. That’s what I’ll be doing next.
This is interesting, though sad to see he’s going to Substack to run his new blog incarnation. I suspect he’s following the model of Jonah Goldberg who is doing roughly the same thing. The “newsletter trend” as a means of running a blog and attempting to monetize it is certainly an interesting one. I’m curious how valuable readers find it? I wish there were some better open web versions that were easier for individuals to run in an IndieWeb fashion. The pattern is a lot like Patreon and some others, but here there is the appearance of more publishing control as well as the removal of the appearance of begging for money to fund something.

A Domain of One’s Own Meetup | July 23, 2020

I’ll be hosting a Domain of One’s Own meetup on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at at 10:30 AM Pacific / 1:30 PM Eastern / 7:30 PM CEST. Everyone who is interested in the topic is welcome to attend. We expect there will be students, teachers, designers, web developers, technologists, and people of all ages and ranges of ability from those just starting out with a domain to those running DoOO programs at colleges or even people running their own hosting companies.

We’ll use Zoom for this online meetup (here’s the link to the room which should be active about 15 minutes before we start). We’re planning on using an Etherpad for real-time chat and note taking for the event.

Attendees will be expected to have read and agree to the IndieWeb Code of Conduct which will apply to the meetup.

We will 

  • Have discussions about A Domain of One’s Own and the independent web;
  • Get to know other colleagues in the space;
  • Ask colleagues for help/advice on problems or issues you’re having with your domain;
  • Find potential collaborators for domains-related projects you’re working on;
  • Explore new and interesting ideas about what one can do or accomplish with a personal domain;
  • Create or update your domain

Agenda 

  • Welcome
  • Introductions: short 2 minute introductions of attendees with an optional brief demonstration of something you’ve done on your domain or purpose for which you’re using your domain.
  • Group photo for those who wish to participate
  • Main meetup: Ideally everyone should bring a topic, demonstration, question, or problem to discuss with the group. Depending on time and interest, we can try to spend 5-10 minutes discussing and providing feedback on each of these. If questions go over this time limitation, we can extend the conversation in smaller groups as necessary after the meetup.

RSVP

To RSVP to the meetup, please do one of the following:

Future meetups

While the time frame for this inaugural meetup may work best for some in the Americas, everyone with interest is most welcome. If there are others in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or other locales who are interested, do let us know what dates/times might work for you in the future and we can try to organize a time to maximize some attendance there. I’m happy to help anyone who’d like to take the leadership of other time zones or locales to leverage some of the resources of the IndieWeb community to assist in starting future meetings to cover other areas of the world. 

🎉 Invitations 🎉 

Tim Owens, Aaron Davis, Cathie LeBlanc, Kartik Prabhu, Amber Case, Amy Guy, Greg McVerry, William Ian O’Byrne, Jim Groom, Kimberly Hirsh, John Johnston, Robin DeRosaAudrey Watters, Ken Bauer, Will Monroe, Jeremy Dean, Nate Angell, Jon Udell, Adam Procter, Amy Guy, Kris ShafferAnelise H. Shrout, John Johnston,  Mark Grabe, Rick Wysocki, Doug Holton, Jeffrey Keefer, Rayna M. HarrisDavey Moloney, Vicki BoykisJohn Carlos BaezDan ScottTaylor JadinKathleen Fitzpatrick (mb), Blair MacIntyre (mb), Doug Belshaw, Adam ProcterDan Cohen (mb), Dave Cormier, Scott Gruber, Kay Oddone, Kin Lane, Martha Burtis, Lee Skallerup Bessette, Adam Croom, Sean Michael Morris, Jesse Stommel, Cassie Nooyen, Stephen Downes, Ben Werdmüller, Erin Jo Richey, Jack Jamieson, Grant Potter, Ryan Boren (mb), Paul Hibbits, Maha Bali, Alan Levine, John Stewart, Teodora Petkova, Lora Taub-Pervizpour, Clint Lalonde, Clint Lalonde Sonja Burrows, Jonathan Poritz Chris Long, Mo PelzelMichelle S. HagermanAnne-Marie ScottTim Clarke, Amy Collier, Laura PasquiniMartin HawkseyZach WhalenDaniel LyndsTom WoodwardMark A. MatienzoLaura GibbsAutumn CainesChris LottJess ReingoldTerry GreenErin Rose Glass,  Trip KirkpatrickMeredith FierroLauren BrumfieldHelen DeWaardKeegan Long-Wheeler,  Irene Stewart Christina HendricksBill Kronholm, Xinli WangTineke D’HaeseleerMartin Weller Jeremy FeltJane Van Galen, Tanis Morgan, Library Carpentry

Know someone who would be interested in joining? Please forward this event, or one of the syndicated copies (linked below) to them on your platform or modality of choice.

Hashtags: #​phdchat#​DoOO#​edtechchat#​literacies#​higherED#​dh, #​ds106#​educolor#​WPCampus#​openscience#​clmooc#​digped#​altc

Featured image: Hard Drive Repair flickr photo by wwarby shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Read Writing is a process of discovery by Doug BelshawDoug Belshaw (Discours.es)
Unable, or perhaps unwilling, to do my usual exercise due to not being able to wear contact lenses at the moment, I sat down yesterday evening with my back to our bedroom radiator to read Stefan Zweig’s Montaigne. It’s a short book, and quite odd, in that it doesn’t really quote much from Mont...
Read Giving up tweeting for one week by Matt MaldreMatt Maldre (Spudart)
I’m thinking about giving up tweeting for one week, and instead write out all my thoughts and reactions on my blog. So far this year, I’ve been having a lot of fun blogging more. In the past decade when I have an idea, I would head to Twitter and blurt it out. Now, writing out …
It’s not a complete silo quit, but it’s a start. Matt’s got some great ideas here about why it’s important and useful to write on your own website. I do think there are some building blocks he could add to his site to improve on some of the downsides or replace bits he thinks he’s missing out on though.

Since he doesn’t support Webmentions yet, I’m manually syndicating my reply to his website in support of his efforts.

Read I ❤ Blogs And Maybe You Should Too. by Luis Gabriel Santiago AlvaradoLuis Gabriel Santiago Alvarado (gabz.me)
I have been reading ‘Blogs’ for as long as I have been “surfing” the web (it’s that a term I can still use?), even if at the time I wasn’t aware of what I was reading was a blog. To me was probably just another website. Then I started to get more serious about it and read more of some pe...
Read A return to blogs (finally? sort of?) by Joanne McNeil Joanne McNeil (Nieman Lab Predictions for Journalism 2020 )
One reason we might see a resurgence of blogs is the novelty. Tell someone you’re starting a new newsletter and they might complain about how many newsletters (or podcasts) they already subscribe to. But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.
I almost want to call her to task, but Joanne has got her own website that looks like it’s part of tilde.club including an under construction image at the bottom of the page! How cool is that?!

I do find myself wishing that she kept her own writing in a blog so I could subscribe to her longer form work there. She’s also got a fantastic sounding book on the history of the internet from the perspective of the user called Lurking that’s coming out in February!

Her piece doesn’t tacitly tie back to journalism as directly as many in this series generally do, but I feel like she’s suggesting that by getting back to the roots of the old (non-corporately owned and controlled) web, journalism has a better chance to recover.  Much like her, I also think there is a beginning of a blogging renaissance that is brewing on the interwebz. It’s quite interesting to see people noticing and writing about it in contexts like the Nieman Lab’s annual predictions.

I’m not sure that I agree with her assertions about context collapse. Some of the most sophisticated information consumers are aware of it, but I don’t think that Harry or Mary Beercan are aware of the general concept.

Highlights and Annotations

But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.

It’s been long enough now that people look back on blogging fondly, but the next generation of blogs will be shaped around the habits and conventions of today’s internet. Internet users are savvier about things like context collapse and control (or lack thereof) over who gets to view their shared content. Decentralization and privacy are other factors. At this moment, while so much communication takes place backstage, in group chats and on Slack, I’d expect new blogs to step in the same ambiguous territory as newsletters have — a venue for material where not everyone is looking, but privacy is neither airtight nor expected.

She doesn’t have the technical terminology many use, but she’s describing the IndieWeb community pretty well here.

Replied to Flow in WordPress for writers by Dave WinerDave Winer (Scripting News)
Flow is the writer's problem for blogging. I have been working on this since I started in 1994. I solved the problem for myself in 1997, and ever since I've been working on solving it for everyone else.
Dave has some solid points about the UI and process of writing here. Speed is key! WordPress is pretty deplorable in this way. Some of the more advanced user may simply write the word “new” in their browser and tab down once to the correct URL to begin creating. Others may have some browser bookmarklets set up to jump right to creation. Still, for the unwashed masses–and I include myself in this, things should be far easier and more direct. I’ve recently been experimenting with the Narwhal plugin that puts a writing interface right up top on my website (and only appears when I’m logged in) and provides a pretty solid experience the way Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites do.

I have played around with many of Dave’s tools over the years and appreciated his UI and particularly some of his outliner tools. Given that he’s built and tested some very strong tools and interfaces, I’d be really curious to see him implement a Micropub client back end on some of them so that they not only allow one to post to his sites, but so that one could use them to create, edit, and publish to almost any website out there. Some of his tools are already set up to post content to Twitter, why not set them up to post to WordPress and many others too?

Given that CMSs and static site services like WordPress, Drupal, Craft, WithKnown, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, and Blot all support Micropub either natively or with simple plugins, Dave could easily take his various publishing interfaces and make them broadly available to almost any website on the planet. How many times have I desperately wished I could use Radio3, Little Outliner, Little Card Editor, pngWriter and others to be able to post to other websites instead of just Twitter?!

He might even implement them as Micropub clients just so that he could use his own interfaces to publish directly to his WordPress sites instead of worrying about their interface. I suspect that in day or two’s worth of work he could not only have half a dozen or more micropub clients, but he might also figure out how to dovetail them all together to make something more interesting and useful than Gutenberg, which has taken hundreds of developers and a magnitude larger amount of time to create.

Perhaps some additional competition against Gutenberg would help speed WordPress (and everyone else for that matter) toward making a simpler and more direct publishing interface? Micropub seems like a designer’s dream for making better posting interfaces, especially since it’s got such broad endpoint support.

Read Hyperchatting by Jack BatyJack Baty (baty.blog)
People seem very focused on technological solutions to online communication (ActivityPub, Indieweb, this absurd BlueSky idea), but the hyperconversation approach is trying to prove that the problem is a human problem. If you read and listen to each other and try to respond thoughtfully and carefully - and try to