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January 5, 2018

Experiments in Networked Writing

What's next?

I often talk about blogging as “networked writing”. For me, it’s the key difference between other forms of writing and blogging. The idea that blogs exist within the network is crucial to understanding the medium (the medium is the message - could one say the blogosphere is the blog?).

Why networked writing? For me, blogging and networked writing is interesting because:

Nodes and network graphs

Every blog and every post exists as a node in a web of connections. This has two direct implications, firstly that you (anyone!) can create new nodes in the network. Creating a new blog or a new post creates a new node that can reference and participate in the web of connections between nodes is exciting! Secondly, it implies that the connection between the nodes is important. Every blog and every post can live as both node and as connection.

What does that mean? It means you can write a post that is directed within the network. If you want to get on the radar of a blogger - write about their ideas and reference them. The lowly hyperlink is a connective tissue that creates a network graph between the nodes.

Collectable and addressable

Everything is indexed and searchable by default on the web and search engines do a good enough job but indexation and search is only one dimension of discovery and the content network graph has more dimensions than that! There’s room for curation, lists, pointers to things. Plenty of link blogs do this very well (though increasingly these are moving to email newsletters)

You can think of creating sets of posts and sets of blogs as the network infrastructure - aiding discovery and exploration of the network. This is of course only possible with stable addresses (i.e. URLs!).


Commenting is dying a death on the web - disqus, the only real solution that works just recently got sold to an ad tech company and no one knows what the future looks like here but it’s always been a crucial piece of the networked architecture to be able to comment and respond to posts in a way that allows others to see the network activity.

I’m curious to see Nathan’s approach to “discuss on twitter” see here for example - the new twitter threading UI feels pretty good at this though definitely still not “solved”.

So, what’s next?

Thought experiments in networked writing

So what would be some new exciting options and ideas for networked writing?

What would you want to see from networked writing? How do you think about it? What tools would you like to see?

(PS - I’ve enabled hypothesis in-line commenting on this page as a trail. Check it out and see how you like it! I don’t think it’ll replace disqus for now but it’s fun to experiment with it.)

This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in the comments or sign up for my newsletter.