The gap between the extremes
Dave Winer's post "I want my old blog back" throws up some interesting questions.
He discusses how his blog used to look before succumbing to the lure of Twitter which became the de facto home of short status-like posts for many of us.
With the launch of Micro.blog, especially the self-hosting option, we can reclaim the micropost for our own and, should we desire, list them right alongside our long form pieces.
But there are problems.
As Dave says: "everything needed a title to make Google Reader happy"
I enjoyed using Google Reader and was sad to see it shut down but, while it did a lot to popularise RSS and therefore consumption of blogs, it also did its fair share of harm.
Insistence on post titles among that.
Manton Reece, creator of Micro.blog, continues this complaint. The service wants your self-hosted micropost RSS feed to not have individual item titles (my custom feed doesn't even include the field) although it will treat just the date as though it were an empty title.
Status updates on Twitter and Facebook don't have titles, they don't need them. By not wanting titles in feeds powering Micro.blog Manton hopes to force more RSS readers to properly support them rather than duplicating the content.
It is not a difficult concept but most RSS readers have taken their lead directly from Google Reader and insist on titles.
Things need to be more flexible.
The middle ground
But it's not just microposts that suffer. As Dave continues:
There was a gap, items that were longer than 140, or had multiple links, but were too short to get a title. There was no place for them.
And he's absolutely right.
While blog themes will generally hide titles for status posts (if they have them) there is nothing to cater for the middle ground, those posts in-between. Admittedly, we can do what we like on our blogs using custom themes and CSS but the problem lies not locally but in the distribution and syndication.
The obsession with titles is a limiting factor but one we know is unnecessary due to our addiction to status updates on social networks.
We could put these posts on Facebook but why should we when the idea is to get everything all together on our own sites.
In its attempts to be more social, treating replies as new posts, Medium allows you to publish without titles yet still insists on using the first line as one.
Is it just logistics? After all, we need a way to reference these posts so how do we do it without a title of some description?
Do we need a better way of displaying and distributing this type of content?