Owning my words

When I wrote a few words about progressive enhancement recently, I linked to Karolina’s great article The Web Isn’t Uniform. I was a little reluctant to link to it, not because of the content—which is great—but because of its location on Ev’s blog. I much prefer to link directly to people’s own websites (I have a hunch that those resources tend to last longer too) but I understand that Medium offers a nice low barrier to publishing.

That low barrier comes at a price. It means you have to put up with anyone and everyone weighing in with their own hot takes. The way the site works is that anyone who writes a comment on your article is effectively writing their own article—you don’t get to have any editorial control over what kind of stuff appears together with your words. There is very little in the way of community management once a piece is published.

Karolina’s piece attracted some particularly unsavoury snark—tech bros disagreeing in their brash bullying way. I linked to a few comments, leaving out the worst of the snark, but I couldn’t resist editorialising:

Ah, Medium! Where the opinions of self-entitled dudes flow like rain from the tech heavens.

I knew even when I was writing it that it was unproductive, itself a snarky remark. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But I wanted to acknowledge that not only was bad behaviour happening, but that I was seeing it, and I wasn’t ignoring it. I guess it was mostly intended for Karolina—I wanted to extend some kind of acknowledgment that the cumulative weight of those sneering drive-by reckons is a burden that no one should have to put up with.

I knew that when I wrote about Medium being “where the opinions of self-entitled dudes flow like rain from the tech heavens” that I would (rightly) get pushback, and sure enough, I did …on Medium. Not on Twitter or anywhere else, just Medium.

I syndicate my posts to Ev’s blog, so the free-for-all approach to commenting doesn’t bother me that much. The canonical URL for my words remains on my site under my control. But for people posting directly to Medium and then having to put up with other people casually shitting all over their words, it must feel quite disempowering.

I have a similar feeling with Twitter. I syndicate my notes there and if the service disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed any tears. There’s something very comforting in knowing that any snarky nasty responses to my words are only being thrown at copies. I know a lot of my friends are disheartened about the way that Twitter has changed in recent years. I wish I could articulate how much better it feels to only use Twitter (or Medium or Facebook) as a syndication tool, like RSS.

There is an equal and opposite reaction too. I think it’s easier to fling off some thoughtless remarks when you’re doing it on someone else’s site. I bet you that the discourse on Ev’s blog would be of a much higher quality if you could only respond from your own site. I find I’m more careful with my words when I publish here on adactio.com. I’m taking ownership of what I say.

And when I do lapse and write snarky words like “Ah, Medium! Where the opinions of self-entitled dudes flow like rain from the tech heavens.”, at least I’m owning my own snark. Still, I will endeavour to keep my snark levels down …but that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn a blind eye to bad behaviour.

Have you published a response to this? :

Responses

Rudiger Meyer

Thomas Basbøll published a final post on his Research as Second Language blog today. He’s been having doubts about social media, and, somewhat to my surprise, considers blogs to fall into that category. His main concern is that with the ‘immediate’ audience that this kind of media entails, he’s already thinking of the response before completing the thought. From now on his website will be the place in which to collects those thoughts – I look forward to following them there.

Thomas is concerned with contributing to a body of knowledge rather than getting caught up in the chatter of the day. The advancement of learning through “gathering and refining and challenging each other’s assumptions” is the great promise of hypertext and the web – a vast library potentially open to all. Mandy Brown, in her reading notes to Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy, draws attention however to the fact that the web is as much a place “talk” as it is to publish, reminding us to distinguish between the two: What we refer to as publishing on the the web is in fact often something else:

Walter Ong calls this “secondary orality,” that is, orality which is written in the technical sense (via pecking at a keyboard) but which is fundamentally an element of oral culture.

Jeremy Keith also published something today. A look at the dissonance that arises when articles published on his site are syndicated to Medium, for example, and opened up to the kind of commentary we know all too well from social media. It’s not that Jeremy isn’t open to dialogue – webmentions enable a conversation with what others have posted on their own sites. One of those responses comes from Colin Devroe:

By publishing to my own web site first I feel like I’m curating a library rather than throwing loose papers into a raging torrent.

Jeremy Cherfas

“[F]or people posting directly to Medium and then having to put up with other people casually shitting all over their words, it must feel quite disempowering.” Adactio: Journal—Owning my words https://adactio.com/journal/10675 I wouldn’t know.

cdevroe.com

Owning my words and photos and audio bits May 20th, 2016 Jeremy Keith wrote on his blog about owning his words, or, being willing to publish his words (snarky or otherwise) on his own site under his own name. I recommend you read his entire post. But this bit stood out: I wish I could articulate how much better it feels to only use Twitter (or Medium or Facebook) as a syndication tool, like RSS. I feel the same way. I sort of tried to articulate the more tangible results of publishing from my site first in Observations about “tweeting” from my site. But let me get into a bit more detail here about not just tweeting but publishing in general. By publishing to my own web site first… I feel like I’m curating a library rather than throwing loose papers into a raging torrent. I have the ability to quickly move to another platform if I so wish I can choose how things look and feel I can track, or not track, any metric I’d like to I can publish several different types of media: photos, audio I can turn discussion on or off As Jeremy said, I own my words and photos and audio bits. I love it. As I said in the observations post and even as I wrote earlier this morning; I wish everyone did this. #blogging, #indieweb, #jeremy keith, #mywebsite, #posse, #writing

# Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 at 12:54pm