Before going on something of a blogging sabbatical for a few days – an attempt to break the “must post every day” idiocy – I thought it might be a good idea to re-iterate; yes, I’m posting the blog at more than one place, and no, I’m not leaving anywhere (yet).
I’ve often posted to more than one place in the past. Back in the day, blogs only existed at other places. That probably makes no sense to anybody that started blogging in the last decade, so I should perhaps elaborate. Back when blogging first started, there were no platforms. Nobody could publish your blog for you. The only option was to create your own website, and go hunting around the web to find other people that had done something similar. The earliest iterations of Yahoo, Altavista, Lycos, and the various other search engines helped you find other bloggers, because they curated the web – the early search engines were not entirely machine generated.
I can still remember visiting a computer store years ago and seeing a yellow-pages of the internet – a printed directory of websites worth visiting.
Back in the day – before the big blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr arrived, the only way to post to blogs was to create pages, and the only way to follow blogs was to visit them. To help you do that, people would commonly have both a “Blogroll” page – listing blogs they liked, and a “Guestbook” page – inviting others to post a “hi, I visited!” message. That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. In the early days the world wide web was a very much more belt-and-braces affair, where people invented it as they went along – a bit like Minecraft I suppose.
Over time, various programmed solutions came about to make blogging easier; where you could write a post and pubish it, and the website built itself (versus you creating a new page for every post). The programmed solutions brought comments, and a wonderful idea called RSS (really simple syndication). RSS allowed you to run a piece of software called an “RSS aggregator”, that would visit the blogs you liked one after another, and pull all of their posts together into one long stream. These days the most iteration of that idea is called Feedly, and lives online too.
After a while, rather than helping people build their own self-contained blogs, first Blogger, and then LiveJournal, Vox, Yahoo 360, TypePad, MySpace, WordPress and numerous others took it upon themselves to do the back-end wizardry for you, and let you get on with the writing part – you didn’t need to look after anything. And that’s where it all starts to get a bit sketchy. Each and every “platform” that offered to help became incompatible with each and every other platform. Each platform offered features that only worked on that platform – and so the walled gardens I’ve written about in the past came about. People fell into communities within each “world” , and stopped crossing paths with one another – mostly because it was inconvenient.
For a modern example, try adding a Blogger RSS feed to WordPress reader. You can see the posts, but you can’t comment unless you visit the blog.
So (he says, after a very long and twisting story), maybe my attempts to keep WordPress and Tumblr at arms length are because I remember how blogs were once upon a time – that there were no walls – that with a little effort, everybody could find everybody else if they looked. And that’s why I’m trying out substack. I’m putting my writing “somewhere else” – outside of the walled gardens. Somewhere people can visit if they choose to that doesn’t require an account to write a comment, or to like a post (substack has no comments or likes).
There’s another thought about having no comments on a blog – you can express your thoughts without fear of reprisals from keyboard warriors. Your words remain your own, without being tainted by another. The other person can of course publish their own words on a subject, but they cannot hijack your “place”, if that makes sense – to reach eyeballs (if that’s what they want to do) they will have to do it themselves. It’s a better kind of world in my opinion. You might wonder how friends might express support or cameraderie if there are no comments – that’s why you list an email address on your about page.
Anyway. Last “anyway”, honest…
It’s lunchtime, and I’ve probably written far too much. I’ll leave it there for the moment.