Charlie muses on ol’ fashioned web rings …and the cultural needs they fulfilled.
We suffer from homogenous dirge in most of our contemporary web presences. Having a personal website has become a rarer and rarer thing in this time of social media profile pages.
However, recent months have seen a surge in personal websites and blogging amongst some members of the web tech community. This is something that we urgently need to encourage!
When you greet a stranger, look at his shoes.
Keep your money in your shoes.
Put your trouble behind.
When you greet a stranger, look at her hands.
Keep your money in your hands.
Put your travel behind.
This’ll be handy the next time I want to send someone a file: drop it in here, and then paste the link into a DM/chat.
Writing on your own website associates your thoughts and ideas with you as a person. Having a distinct website design helps strengthen that association. Writing for another publication you get a little circular avatar at the beginning of the post and a brief bio at the end of the post, and that’s about it. People will remember the publication, but probably not your name.
As the commercial viability of the web grew, we saw more and more users become consumers and not creators. Many consumers see websites as black boxes full of magic that they could never understand. Because of this, they would never think to try to create something.
This is a shame. We lost a little piece of the magic of the web when this culture came about.
A call to action to create a fan site about something you love. It would be an unmonetisable enthusiasm. But it’s still worth doing:
- The act of creation itself is fun!
- Sharing something you love with the world is worthwhile.
- You’ll learn something.
So here’s the challenge:
- Create a Fan Site.
- Help someone create a Fan Site.
- Create a webring.
After musing on newsletters, Craig shares how he’s feeling about Instagram and its ilk:
Instagram will only get more complex, less knowable, more algorithmic, more engagement-hungry in 2019.
I’ve found this cycle has fomented another emotion beyond distrust, one I’ve felt most acutely in 2018: Disdain? (Feels too loaded.) Disappointment? (Too moralistic.) Wariness? (Yes!) Yes — wariness over the way social networks and the publishing platforms they provide shift and shimmy beneath our feet, how the algorithms now show posts of X quality first, or then Y quality first, or how, for example, Instagram seems to randomly show you the first image of a multi-image sequence or, no wait, the second.8
I try to be deliberate, and social networks seem more and more to say: You don’t know what you want, but we do. Which, to someone who, you know, gives a shit, is pretty dang insulting.
Wariness is insidious because it breeds weariness. A person can get tired just opening an app these days. Unpredictable is the last thing a publishing platform should be but is exactly what these social networks become. Which can make them great marketing tools, but perhaps less-than-ideal for publishing.
Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.
Well, this could be very handy for Huffduffer!
Craig’s slow walk away from Instagram:
I want to have a place very far apart from that, where I can post photos on my own terms. Not have an algorithm decide which of my posts is best (have you noticed Instagram making the second photo in series appear first in the carousel?). And I don’t want to be rewarded for being anodyne, which is what these general algorithms seem to optimize for: things that are easily digestible, firmly on the scale of “fine, just fine.” It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the more boring stuff we shove into our eyeballs, the more boring our taste becomes.
Facebook isn’t really all that much better or more convenient than having your own website, or sending emails or chats. But for some reason, Facebook (and Instagram) are where we post now.
A personal history of personal publishing from Ana—it’s wonderful!
When I was feeling low and alone I would recall how happy I used to be before I was working in tech. I would remember my silly fan sites, my experiments, my blogs and everything that I loved so much that made me become a developer.
Blogging about what you are working on is is really valuable for the writer because it forces you to think logically about what you are doing in order to tell a good story.
It’s also really valuable to blog about what you’ve learned, especially if you’ve made a mistake. It makes sure you’ve learned the lesson and helps others avoid making the same mistakes.
Publishing on the web really is quite marvellous:
…an endless thrill, a sort of everlasting, punk-rock feeling and I hope it will never really go away.
I love this example of paying it forward:
This is something I struggle to articulate to friends who are suffering because they feel tied to silos like Facebook and Twitter:
What self-publishing does is provide me a choice, which makes me feel good. I feel like I can step away from platforms at will and I don’t feel as shackled as I have done previously.
I really like Alice’s updates.
I think I’ll do weaknotes. Some collections of notes. Sometimes. Not very well written probably. Generally written with the urgency of someone who is waiting for a baby wake up.
I’m telling you this stuff is often too important and worthy to be owned by an algorithm and lost in the stream.
What you write might help someone understand a concept that you may think has been covered enough before. We each have our own unique perspectives and writing styles.
That voice telling you that people are just sitting somewhere watching our every step and judging us based on the popularity of our writing is a big fat pathetic attention-needing liar.