Sonant Thoughts – Episode 17: Whose Problem Is It AnywayComments

The issues with content distribution and display raise some fundamental questions about how we approach creation on our own sites, but whose problem is it?

We can't expect the various services to always treat our data as we would like despite the ideals of data portability.


Sonant Thoughts - Episode 16: A Bit Meta

The Gap Between the Extremes


This was recorded early so doesn't factor in thoughts from To syndicate or no

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Sonant Thoughts

Sonant Thoughts – Episode 17: Whose Problem Is It Anyway

To syndicate or noComments

Realising that I had not cross-posted a few of my recent items to Medium got me thinking.

After mentioning that I was not reading much there either I find it curious that there should be such a change in my online behaviour in so short a space of time.

This wasn't a deliberate act, I forgot to change the options on the Medium plugin for these posts, but I still don't feel compelled to go back and do it.

Although POSSEing your content to other places isn't a requirement for having an #Indieweb property they generally go hand in hand.

Most people will still engage on the same services they have been using, or reply to other people's posts, but just make sure that they are putting the original items on their own site.

It can, therefore, be surprising when someone says they won't be syndicating their posts.

Returning to the subject of display and distribution, however, not syndicating your content - or, at least, not syndicating all of it - makes a good degree of sense.

If distribution or syndication doesn't work then don't do it, simple. Keep things where they are, where they look how they should, within the context in which they were created.

Some content types work well when distributed so, if it's not a chore to do it, why not? Use these as the bait to the blogging hook.

Hand in hand with data ownership we should be leading by example to encourage more direct site visits rather than viewing via a third party service.

To syndicate or no

The gap between the extremesComments

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, 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, 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 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.

How else?

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?

The gap between the extremes