In a kind of "end of chapter 1" post over at AltPlatform, Richard McManus has been able to articulate something that I've been going in circles around but never quite settling on.
"For me, blogging is primarily about connecting to other people around ideas and shared passions."
He goes on to say that he wanted to find a blogging community again.
I've mentioned the way blogging used to be a number of times over the past few months, the way conversations went back and forth between different blogs and bloggers but I didn't invoke the 'c' word: community!
I'm not exactly sure that's what it really is but I know where he's coming from and, in lieu of something better, it's as good a description as any.
He also points out that the indieweb principle of ownership can contribute to the problem of noise. If everything we do is posted on our own sites and syndicated out it can be a lot of information:
"I certainly don’t want a bunch of other peoples’ checkins clogging up my feed reader."
It's not, however, ownership that's the issue but the management of that which we own.
"Just as not everything needs to be pulled back to your own site does it all need to be pushed out and cross-posted as well?"
Taking possession of your tweets or check-ins or images is great, there's not a problem with that, but specific data types have their intended places; tweets belong on Twitter, check-ins on Swarm, etc. If one data type is cross-posted to a non-native destination it starts to lose its value and diminish the value of that destination.
This applies equally to our sites and feeds.
Own your data, yes, absolutely, but manage it properly and allow your visitors or subscribers to also manage it according to their needs. They should not have to struggle through a quagmire of tweets and check-ins just to reach a blog post.
Back to blogging
As I have made apparent in previous posts, and wholeheartedly agree with Richard, webmentions are the poster child of indieweb technology and are one aspect which can join myriad blogs into this quasi community he seeks.
His post title spells it out, he is "searching for an Open Web blogging model" but:
"the question is how to create a community around these Open Web developments, or at least feel like you’re contributing to the conversation, via blogging."
A set of tools is already there. I'd argue the real question is how to encourage its use when the social behemoths already make it so easy.
And that's why I like micro.blog but there's still such a long way to go.
We can talk all we want about ownership. We can preach about the untrustworthiness and potential demise of social networks taking our data with them to the grave, but billions of people demonstrate on a daily basis that this really isn't an issue for them.
It's like trying to turn back the clock but the world has moved on. Even a lot of old school, staunch bloggers have moved on.
Building that community is going to be hard.
Hard, but not impossible. I think it's a question of scale and expectations.
The old vs the new
We have an ideal way to link things together but support for webmentions is still very limited. Not only do we need to encourage more blogging but also encourage those bloggers to use a consistent means of communicating, whether that's webmentions or something else not created yet.
And we still need better means of discovery.
You can't feel like you're contributing to the conversation if no one knows who or where you are.
Blogrolls had a brief resurgence but that's all gone quiet. A number of people jokingly mentioned resurrecting webrings but are these stalwarts of the old web suited to the new?
Perhaps we need an entirely new model of discovery and consumption, one more suited to the modern, social web.
What form that takes, however, is beyond me.