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a blog is probably the least cool way to communicate with people. It doesn’t have old-school cred or state-of-the-art shine; it falls into a kind of uncanny valley. To be a blogger is sort of like being that Japanese guy who makes paintings with Excel. But that suits me.

The Uncanny Valley of Blogging

Replied to Message in a bottle by David TrussDavid Truss (

Write a note, put it in a bottle, cork it, and throw it into the ocean. The tides move the bottle from one shore to another and the message is picked up randomly by a stranger who isn’t expecting the message. An audience of one. Today, the internet lets us toss our message into a […]

Today, the internet lets us toss our message into a cyber ocean. As I write this, I have an idea of some of the people who will see it, but I also know that it has the potential to be picked up by some random person somewhere far away, opened up and read at random, without me ever knowing where my post, my message in a bottle, landed.

David Truss

Hi David, I was wading through my ocean of RSS and this post popped up. Personally, when I publish on the web, I am always left with the thought that it could be read, not that it will be read. This possibility forces me to be clear and concise with what I write. This is something that Clive Thompson once wrote about regarding the power of blogging:

Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.

Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter by Clive Thompson

Reflecting on research into education, he argues that their is power in explaining your thoughts.

Children who didn’t explain their thinking performed worst. The ones who recorded their explanations did better.

Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter by Clive Thompson

Interestingly, in reflecting upon Pluralistic and his memex method, Cory Doctorow discusses the importance of doing it first and foremost for yourself.

First and foremost, I do it for me. The memex I’ve created by thinking about and then describing every interesting thing I’ve encountered is hugely important for how I understand the world. It’s the raw material of every novel, article, story and speech I write.

20 years a blogger by Cory Doctorow

Thinking of blogging like this makes me wonder about the ‘message in a bottle’ metaphor. Maybe there is an alternative history to ‘messages in a bottle’, but all the tales that I read about them was that they related to people trying to escape their little island. I am not sure that is why I write? I am happy if someone passing finds my message and wishes to trade ideas, something you commented on ten years ago:

“As connected learners we are not just curating ideas and resources, we are creating relationships, some are just ‘weak ties’ but others are very meaning, rich and strong. I don’t just read Dean, I hear his voice, I connect to previous things he has said, and I pause just a little longer if he says something I disagree with.” David Truss in response to Learning in a Connected World

It Takes a Village … by Aaron Davis

But I am not sure I wanted to be rescued? I wonder if Doctorow’s dandelion metaphor is more apt?

Dandelions produce two thousand seeds every spring, and when a good, stiff breeze comes around, those seeds are blown into the air, going every which way. The dandelion’s strategy is to maximize the number of blind chances it has for continuing its genetic line—not to carefully plot every germination. It works: every summer, every crack in every sidewalk has a dandelion growing out of it.

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow

Replied to Publish Your Work by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

I don’t create or publish in the hopes of influencing others. I create things because I have an urge to create. But it sure is great to help others along the way, however small my contribution might be. I don’t care about being found online and I am certainly not actively pushing my stuff down others’ throats (Kleon’s rule #7: Don’t turn into human spam). I love reading about the creation process of others. I love sharing my creation process. It’s almost second nature: it feels like a wasted opportunity to do something good in this world if I didn’t.

Source: Publish Your Work by Wouter Groeneveld

Wouter, your argument about the wasted opportunity missed by not sharing ideas in public reminds me of Clive Thompson’s piece from Wired from a few years ago.

Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge.

Source: Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter – How successful networks nurture good ideas by Clive Thompson

I personally find the benefit of working through solutions and often find myself refining things as a part of the process.

Replied to The drag of experience by Oliver Quinlan (Oliver’s Newsletter)

I can see how people start to become more resistant to change. When you’ve got lots of legacy stuff to unpick it can be a lot of effort to do things any differently.

But all that experience is incredibly valuable. It just needs a bit of curation every now a then. A lot when you make a big change. You get to a point where it just isn’t possible to start from scratch, you just have to unpick things a bit and keep on building.

Really enjoyed this reflection Oliver. I must admit that I was a bit latter to things than you, but I still care about my digital archive even if I do not ‘blog’ as much as I used to. One of my biggest frustrations with my archive is that I didn’t start earlier. I really rue not having a digital copy of my Honours thesis. Fine I have a scanned copy, but it is not the same.
Replied to Subterranean Blogging (

We think of blogging as being performative but the value is subterranean. You can watch someone blogging and think that all they’re doing is throwing words into the feed, when in reality they’re sparking many interesting conversations and connections below the surface.

I really like your point Tom about the invisible nature of blogging. I sometimes wonder if blogging is a way of seeing and thinking. Maybe activities like actually keeping drafts is a power unto itself.
Bookmarked Slow Social (

Slow social is a social network built for people who want a place to connect with their friends online in a more intentional, sustainable manner. It is run and developed by a small team looking to make online communities more human and inclusive.

Slow Social places constraints on the practice of posting to reverse the gamification of platforms like Twitter. Although it creates a sustainable practice, I wonder if we really need another platform?
Liked Triple Entry Blogging (

Here’s a super rough proof of concept Replit tiny library. I’ve never written nodeJS code before and managed to copy and paste together a little thing that takes a library.json file and turns it into a library. Right now it only iterates over a single library but it’s easy to imagine how to extend this to include a feed, info across library files etc etc. I’m gonna get to all that, I jut haven’t had time.

Bookmarked Elderblog Sutra: 13 (

I want to revisit the question of the future of blogging in light of the impending reconfiguration of the social media environment due to Elon Musk buying Twitter.

Venkatesh Rao reflects upon Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and what that might mean for the future. He explains that for more than a decade, it has been the main discovery platform. In addition, Rao argues that along with WordPress, it is last of the convivial platforms.

Pre-Musk twitter, for all its faults, was, along with WordPress-style blogging, the last holdout of a convivial kind of web. Not convivial enough to satisfy genuine Ivan Illich stans like L. M. Sacassas or Robin Sloan perhaps, but far more convivial than Medium/Substack/Patreon/Facebook type corporatized platform ecologies. And definitely convivial enough for a philistine like me who prefers (modulo Covid effects) Starbucks over indie coffee shops anyway.

Rao explains that if Twitter were to disappear, it is not something that can necessarily be replaced with something else.

In brief, I treat all these so-called options as part of the cozyweb, good for my cozyweb activities like the Yak Collective, but not meaningful substitutes as far as the more public affordances of Twitter, such as serving as a distribution medium for blogs, are concerned. Twitter is basically sui generis that way. Not only can nothing replace it, it cannot be built again either, since it was a product of a particular era of the web (like Wikipedia and Craigslist). If it goes away, or transforms unrecognizably, we just have to do without.

With the association between long form blogging and Twitter, Rao wonders what flow on effect that Musk’s proposed changes may have.

But perhaps, this time, it would be good for blogging to plot a course into the future that isn’t so vulnerable to these battles over aggregated discussion and distribution media.

And perhaps it is would be best if blogging were to fade away gracefully, without passing the torch of independent convivial media technology to a suitable successor. Maybe the future is about neither corporatized platform technologies, nor Quixotic indie conviviality.

Maybe it is about an entirely different kind of media environment.

This is a particularly interesting in regards to those who wish to find somewhere else to converse and what that might mean.

In other pieces written about Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, Adam Serwer suggests that Musk’s purchase is less about free speech and more about politics:

“Free speech” is a disingenuous attempt to frame what is ultimately a political conflict over Twitter’s usage as a neutral question about civil liberties, but the outcome conservatives are hoping for is one in which conservative speech on the platform is favored and liberal speech disfavored.

Ben Werdmuller suggests that opening up the algorithm will not resolve the move to a more inclusive world.

Elon is right to want to open source, but he’s wrong about the implications. The world is moving in a more inclusive, more compassionate direction, and there’s no going back. Nationalism and traditionalism are firmly party of the 20th century, and that is becoming an increasingly long time ago.

Discussing the metaphor of the town square, John Naughton suggests that Twitter is just one small piece of this space:

Musk suffers from the delusion that “Twitter has become the de-facto town square”, which, frankly, is baloney. The internet, as Mike Masnick points out, is the metaphorical “town square”. Twitter is just one small private shop in that space – a shop in which hyperventilating elites, trolls, journalists and millions of bots hang out and fight with one another.

Ranjan Roy and Can Duruk theorise that Musk’s purchase is about diversification:

My mini-grand theory is that this entire sequence of events: The Twitter purchase, the SEC escalation, Tesla’s blowout quarter – it’s all about the next giant package. Musk saw an opportunity at the beginning of the year. Tesla’s business was on a roll, his pay package was almost complete, the SEC was threatening his Twitter account, and Tesla’s stock had stalled out for six months. Every great entrepreneur understands the importance of momentum and he decided to capitalize on this confluence of events.

Similar to Rao, Alex Hern believes a healthy social network is not possible:

I don’t think it’s possible for a site to be both a replacement for Twitter, and a healthy social network, because I no longer think it’s possible for a healthy social network to exist that connects the world.

Robin Sloan adds his thoughts in regards to professional engagement:

As a writer, looking for evi­dence of read­er­ship and engage­ment on Twit­ter makes you into the drunk look­ing for your lost keys under the street light.

A lot have spoke about Mastodon as an alternative. Alternatively, Chris Aldrich talks about syndicating for your personal website.

Alan Jacobs wonders if Musk might be a hero and close the platform down.

Elon Musk could become the world’s greatest hero by buying Twitter and then immediately shutting it down.

Replied to None Of My Best Friends Are Content Creators by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

I wish more of my best friends were content creators. The easy way to achieve this is to make more friends. The hard way is to keep on nudging. If you’re still not convinced, read Alexey Guzey’s Why You Should Start a Blog Right Now.

Thought provoking as always Wouter. I have been thinking about this lately, after reading Tom Critchlow’s piece on the idea of a blogging accelerator. Personally, I have been a part of several such groups that tried to get people to blog. I have also written my fair shares of pieces on blogging. I wonder what happened to the rich community, although having said that, I am not sure how much I myself truly blog these days.
Replied to Building a Digital Homestead, Bit by Brick (

From these meditations on the architecture of blogging three questions emerge:

  1. How do you create pathways (and desire paths?) through your site? How do people start, journey, get lost and ultimately find their way through your site? I recently added a “start here” section to my writing page but I’ve been tinkering with blogchains and series of writing. What other structures emerge?
  2. How to archive, index and search? I recently re-architected how search works on my site. It’s not finished yet but I hope to use search as a way to search not only my site but all kinds of other stuff: my bookmarks, my wiki, my notes, my tweets even. Search can be a way to go down rabbitholes. Inspiration: Building Monocle, a universal personal search engine for life.
  3. Using a combination of static site and tachyons.css I find it extremely easy to iterate my way forward. Tinkering with my blog is possible piecemeal, there are no databases, no monolithic CSS files, very few dependencies.. It’s clunky at times but I have this sense that every time I build I don’t accumulate tech debt and that’s actually remarkably powerful for a site that’s been running for a decade or so…
Thinking about my blog as a ‘homestead’, I feel like it is one of those houses that has progressively been tacked onto over time. An extension here, a renovation there. It does not always make sense on the outside, but it makes sense to me.
Bookmarked “My Own Little Fiefdom”: Why Some Famous Novelists Are All About Substack by Adrienne Westenfeld (Esquire)

Although the literary program has room to expand, it won’t be a fit for every novelist with an established readership. “The model definitely favors writers who are extremely gregarious and prolific, and who have highly identifiable, bright, colorful writing styles,” McGurl says. “It’s harder to imagine a more tortured writer—the ones who come out with very little work, in small doses, because they’re suffering for every word they get down. It’s hard to imagine them in this medium, because the pace is ultimately journalistic. You’re almost like a columnist.” But for novelists with the right constitution, there’s a lot to love about the experiment.

Adrienne Westenfeld discusses the way in which some novelists, such as George Saunders, Salman Rushdie and Chuck Palahniuk, have turned to Substack as a means of serializing fiction, teaching the craft of writing and generally engaging with readers. Westenfeld explores the way in which the paywalls provide a means for writers to decide what moderation means to them. However, this hopefulness is in contrast to the fact that the platform has yet to sign-up a high-profile female novelist.

In some reminds me of Jack Antonoff’s point about concerts being something of a safe space:

“No one hates anyone enough to go out there and buy a ticket to heckle them at the show, therefore when I am on tour I feel like I am with my people” (3:00)

However, it does make me sad to think more and more of such conversations are moving away from the public park to closed gardens. With this said, I come back to Austin Kleon’s point about replying the letters and wonder if that is that his job is to produce art.

Replied to

I’m a yes to more blogs. I always value your thoughts and perspective in or out of the classroom.
Replied to Are Digital Gardens Blogs? by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

Cory Doctorow has been calling his blog his Outboard Brain since 2002. Outboard brain, not Second brain. He must have had notes—either in his head, on paper, or digitally—before being able to put the message out there. Quite a few people reach for WordPress to build their digital garden nowadays, and although WordPress is the de facto blogging tool, the result is all but a blog.

I really appreciate your though provoking reflection Wouter. I have been left thinking after your post a few months ago about ‘posting everything‘, especially after reading some of Chris Aldrich’s recent discussions about commonplace books.

I would consider my Read Write Respond site as a ‘blog’, but agree with you that my Collect site is not really a blog. In some respects I would be happy enough to make it private is it is primarily my own secret garden with the gate left open. This is why I curate my monthly newsletter. It is a habit which I find forces me to look back through all the noise. I think this creates a clearer narrative to pick through than my multitude of links.

Although I believe in webmentions as a way of commenting on other posts, one of the reasons I have not made more of my posts private is because I like using Webmentions to connect pieces within my own site. This was brought to a head this week when an update seems to have updated my settings to say no self-mentions stripping my site of all my own self-webmentions. This has force me to consider what I want from my site, even more so after reading your reflections.

Replied to

Great question Rick. I am not sure Google Sites is comparable, but at least they are an option. Also, less to manage. I think the challenge in moving from Global2, to something like basic Edublogs, is access to all the same features. Personally speaking, I have a hosted blog via Reclaim Hosting.
Replied to A Triumph For Blogging by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

By blogging, I rediscovered my interest in web development. That led me into redesigning everything from scratch. That taught me about web accessibility. That led me to Laura Kalbag and Aral Balkan and their Small Technology Foundation which I ended up supporting. That led me into slow tech and privacy. That led me into alternative Android OSes and de-Googling my life. It even made me rethink how I spent my money.

I am not sure if I had thought about the benefits of blogging in this manner. I have always thought about the connections that come through the sharing of ideas, but I had not thought about the benefits of blogging itself. I feel that I miss out in not being more engaged in the technical side. Guess there is always more one can do.
Replied to Scripting News: Sunday, September 12, 2021 (Scripting News)

Drummer has a feature called the glossary, it’s been part of every outliner I have done since the mid-90s. It’s a very simple idea. A table that associates terms with text. If I use one of the terms in my writing, when it’s published, the term is replaced with the text.

I love the idea of a glossary for my site. For example, when I say Ben Collins, it would be cool if it would automatically link to his website, similar to how Google+ worked. I sometimes do this at the moment by linking to my own posts. For example, when talking about care as the first principle, I link to my own bookmark, rather than link to Dave Cormier’s post. This is often why I start writing my longer Read Write Respond posts on this site as it makes it easier to link to existing posts and ideas. It would just be nicer to have a cleaner workflow like Dave Winer has with Drummer.
Replied to On Digital Gardening, Blogs, and Knowledge (

I like the idea of grooming my reference material but I can barely find time to do laundry. I think one of my biggest problems is over-saving. Stars, favorites, reading lists,bookmarks, notes, playlists, and the whole mess of podcasts, is exhausting to keep track of, let alone keep alive and healthy. I recently looked back over my collection of Pinboard bookmarks when I moved to It was a nice walk down memory lane but most of it has very little value to problems I am now dealing with.

I enjoyed this reflection Gabe, in particular your comment about who you want to be.

I want to be the person that reads these long heady articles “later” but life has different plans for me. I don’t read anything later. I read now or I don’t read it.

I feel that it is continual question of balance. Although I agree with Amy Burvall:

In order to connect dots, one must first have the dots

The problem I have is how much time do you allocate to the collection of ideas and how much time do you allocate to putting them together in new and interesting ways.

Replied to (

Should I terminate the note experiment and relax my “real” blogging rules that state an article should ideally have > 1000 words?
Should I throw out notes in the feed and keep everything else as-is? What’s the point of streaming those to the site then?

Or should I just not care?

Wouter, my vote is for ‘just not care’, just in case you were wondering.