Read Proposal for Near-Future Blogging Megastructures by Brendan Schlagel (Brendan Schlagel)
Blogging is great, but it sometimes feels like every blog is an island. To have a robust blog society requires connection, community, conversation. Part of the problem is we don’t have many great ways to connect blogs together into larger conversation structures.

I suspect this response (part read post, part annotation post, part reply, and with Webmentions enabled) will be somewhat different in form and function than those in the preceding conversations within the blogchain, but I offer it, rather than the standard blogpost or even reply, as the sort of differently formed response that blogging futures suggests we might experimentally give.

Sure we have hyperlinks, and even some esoteric magic with the likes of webmentions. But I want big, simple, legible ways to link blog discussions together. I want: blogging megastructures!

In practice, building massive infrastructure is not only very difficult, but incredibly hard to maintain (and also thus generally expensive). Who exactly is going to maintain such structures?

I would argue that Webmentions aren’t esoteric, particularly since they’re a W3C recommendation with several dozens of server implementations including support for WordPress, Drupal, and half a dozen other CMSes.

Even if your particular website doesn’t support them yet, you can create an account on to receive/save notifications as well as to send them manually.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:14PM

Cabinet: one author or several; posts curated into particular collections or series’, often with thematic groupings, perhaps a “start here” page for new readers, or other pointers to specific reading sequences

Colin Walker has suggested something like this in the past and implemented a “required reading” page on his website.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:18PM

Chain: perhaps the simplest collaborative blogging form; a straightforward back and forth exchange of posts exploring a particular topicMesh: like a chain, but with multiple participants; still a legible structure e.g. alternating / round-robin style, but with more possibilities for multiplicity of perspectives and connections across postsFractal: multiple participants and multi-threaded conversation; more infinite game branching; a possibly ever-evolving and mutating conversation, so could probably use some kind of defined endpoint, maybe time-bound

In the time I’ve been using Webmentions, I’ve seen all of these sorts of structures using them. Of particular interest, I’ve seen some interesting experiments with Fragmentions that allow one to highlight and respond to even the smallest fragments of someone’s website.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:20PM

I tend to think of blogging as “thinking out loud”, a combination of personal essay, journaling, brainstorming and public memo.

Another example in the wild of someone using a version of “thinking out loud” or “thought spaces” to describe blogging.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:25PM

Baroque, brutalist, Borgesian — let’s build some blogging megastructures.

Take a peek at which is a quirky and interesting example of something along the lines of the blogging megastructure you suggest.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:27PM

👓 Required reading | Colin Devroe

Read Required reading by Colin Devroe (
The first time I linked to Colin Walker, which was only about 4 months ago, it was because he was fiddling with his blog, trying to come up with the right way to display his content for him and his audience. It is a topic that has fascinated me for 20 years and to see someone else thinking about it out loud is great.

Reply to Colin Walker on the idea of a required reading page

Replied to I've been thinking some more about the idea of a required reading page. by Colin Walker (Social Thoughts)
Could the things held here be placed on an About page? Possibly - it depends what they are. If they are links to your own posts then almost certainly. External links? Maybe, maybe not. So, why have a required page and what does it give the reader?

In classical studies in the Renaissance the number of texts which were popular and considered expected/required reading for a “learned” person were a relatively set number and generally completely consumable and completely known by those with an education. Thus a writer could make a reference to the old testament or to Cato and the vast majority of the audience would get that reference (without footnotes or explicit references) having read these same texts.

Sadly the depth and breadth of available literature has exploded since Gutenberg making it nearly impossible for anyone in a modern audience to have read and know what the author may presume them to know. As an example, in Shakespeare’s day many of his side references would be known by even the uneducated, while most modern students have to rely on Cliff’s Notes or annotated editions to understand those cultural references. The modern day equivalent is that most avid fans of the Simpsons television show are also generally well educated on popular film since the 1940s, otherwise they’re missing 90% of the jokes.

Things become much more stilted within the blogging arena, particularly when a writer may cover a dozen areas or more in which they may have significant experience, but which will likely be completely unknown to some of their regular readers, much less new readers who aren’t specialists in these fields themselves. This may turn away readers at worst, but will destroy the conversation at best. (Though I will admit it doesn’t seem deter some of the lookie-loos from taking at shot at interacting on the lowest levels at Terry Tao’s blog.)

In some sense, in knowing their audience, writers have to have some grasp of what they do or don’t know, otherwise it becomes difficult to communicate those progressively more expanding thoughts. Having hyperlinks certainly helps within a piece, much the way academics footnote journal articles, but it can be just as painful for the writer to constantly be referring back to the same handful of articles constantly. In this sense, having a recommended/required reading section may be useful, particularly if it were ubiquitous, but I suspect that the casual drive-by reader may not notice or care very much. However, for that rare <5% it may be just the primer they’re looking for to better understand you and what you’re writing about.

One of the most difficult things to do in a new job or when entering a new field is to become aware of the understood culture and history of the company or the field itself. One must learn the jargon and history to contextualize the overarching conversation. Jumping into Dave Winer’s blog without knowing his background and history is certainly a more painful thing than starting to read someone whose blog is less than a year old and could thus be consumed in a short time versus thousands upon thousands of posts since the literal start of blogging on the internet. It’s somewhat reminiscent of David Shanske’s problem of distilling down a bio for an h-card from the rest of his site and his resume. What do you want someone you’ve just met to know about you to more quickly put you into a broader context, especially when you want them to get to know you better?

I think we’re all in the same boat as David in figuring out the painful path of distilling all this down in a sensible and straightforward manner. I’m curious to see what you come up with and how it evolves over time.

👓 I’ve been thinking some more about the idea of a required reading page. | Colin Walker

Read a post by Colin WalkerColin Walker (
I've been thinking some more about the idea of a required reading page. Could the things held here be placed on an About page? Possibly - it depends what they are. If they are links to your own posts then almost certainly. External links? Maybe, maybe not. So, why have a required page and what does ...

👓 Required reading? | Colin Walker

Read Required reading? by Colin WalkerColin Walker (
Dave Winer posted: "I wish blogs could have the concept of required reading for the people who read the site." He uses it in the context of something external which he feels everyone should be aware of but, I feel, it could be anything. I've used a similar concept for years to highlight "recommended...

👓 Thoughts on a required reading page for blogs | Nitin Khanna

Read Thoughts on a required reading page for blogs by Nitin Khanna (
I’ve been following Colin Walker’s thoughts on a ‘required reading’ page since Monday and have been thinking about it myself. His own thoughts were based on Dave Winer talking about the idea. What is a required reading page to me? Dave Winer seems to suggest a page which would link to articl...