Short-form blogging

The rise of short-form content on personal blogs, and an extra thought tacked onto the end.

Twitter's tragic death-spasm over the past month, and a lot of the web development community's migration away from it, has prompted renewed interest in owning the platforms where your content—especially short-form, microblogging-type content—is published. Mastodon, to which a lot of the community has migrated, is great—you can run your own instance remarkably cheaply, if that's what you're into; there are plenty of welcoming spaces no matter what your background; and most importantly, it requires minimal context-switching for the Twitter-addicted.

But while most developers already own their own publishing platform—their websites—I think that most would-be bloggers assume certain standards of polish which prevent them from posting with the frequency that they tweet. Blog posts are special: you put effort into them, and you research them, and you accumulate pictures and mixed media and draft diagrams and edit copy, and then you have friends and family read and offer criticism before going back to edit them again, and only when they glitter and hum with immaculate energy do you click the Post button.

But that doesn't have to be the case. Your website is your own: you can put whatever you want up on there. You don't have to impress an editor or a publisher. And I think that a few folks online are coming around to that manner of thinking: Dave Rupert wrote recently about trying to publish more "shorter posts of ideas that stick in my head." Tania Rascia recently gave herself "permission to put whatever I want on the site." Andy Bell's blog has also pivoted towards more short-form content in the past few weeks, and Tyler Angert started a Stream back in May.

This isn't a recent trend. One of my goals from last year was to write more short-form stuff, mostly as a tool for helping me remember what I've thought (the mythical Second Brain!). As of today I've written 90 short posts for my Stream (including this one)—which I'm quite pleased with! My Stream was originally inspired by Simon Collison's Stream, which has been publishing since November 2019, but folks like John Gruber and Jason Kottke (who's back from sabbatical) have been posting stream-like content for years now.

A small part of this is probably due to the resurgence of RSS (itself probably a reaction to increasingly algorithmic feeds) over the past year or two as a medium for consuming the written word online—and the spoken one: podcast feeds are RSS feeds too!

Web Blogging Twitter


Italics in Fira

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Farewell, Twitter

I'm no longer on Twitter (for obvious reasons) and I share a lot of sentiment about it with Simon Collison.