I attempt to make a habit of blogging at least once per week, if not twice. Given that the last post was published nearly two weeks ago, it’s clear I did not meet last week’s goal. Oops.
The last week was more hectic than normal, so I’m going to give myself some grace. I’ve brainstormed some what else I’d like to see on here. Given that I haven’t used Facebook in years, and that I recently left Twitter, I’m floating the idea of having a newsletter subscription that notifies you of a new post, or just sends the entire contents of the post straight to your inbox. I’m also working on adding a blogroll.
I really like Warren Ellis’s notion of the “Republic of Newsletters”, as a not-quite countervailing but potentially antidotal force to the utter mess that is now social media. I still think blogs can serve the same purpose, but I understand that without a reader or some means to click “subscribe” it requires some seeking out, making it more susceptible to falling off readers’ attentional radars. In a recent newsletter, Ellis listed some suggested alternatives to the now-defunct Google Reader that people still use to subscribe to RSS feeds. It’s all a matter of finding new ways to connect to the things you want without the platforms getting in the way.
And that’s what it seems like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are in the business of doing. Getting in the way. I can’t speak for Twitter, but it seems widely understood now that Facebook’s primary business is not showing you what you asked for but what it wants you to see—what it thinks will keep you more engaged. I was talking to a fellow developer a while ago, who pined for Instagram before “Facebook ruined” it. Sure, it shamelessly appropriated Snapchat’s features and lets you do funny things to people’s faces, but I miss the chronological display of what I asked to see. I don’t want an algorithm’s suggestions, or things I missed.
In contrast to the social media bazaar, writing blogs and newsletters can feel like dispatching messages in bottles from a remote island. But the web is not Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, or even Google. Writers, creators, artists, programmers, and everyone who wants to share something has options. Sure, potential visibility is impaired when you don’t use one of the major platforms, but even then, it’s only potential visibility — none of those services care whether or not your work is seen. Obviously, I’m not trying to market my writing, so I do have the luxury of not having to figure how to leverage those platforms to build an audience. Nonetheless, I’m content to write to whatever audience finds me here, in this quiet corner of the web. And given how noisy the major players make the world seem, I’m more than glad to keep things quiet over here.