New Blogging 3 - Blog Patterns

Fiddling with the deckchairs...

Venkatesh just posted a banger:

There is a renaissance underway in online text as a medium. The Four Horsemen of this emerging Textopia are:

  • Roam, a hypertext publishing platform best understood as a medium for composing conspiracy theories and extended universes.
  • Substack, a careful and thorough ground-up neoclassical reconstruction of the age-old email newsletter.
  • Static websites, built out of frameworks like Jekyll or Gatsby (full disclosure: a consulting client).
  • And finally, Threaded Twitter, a user-pioneered hack-turned-supported feature that has wonderfully revitalized the platform.

I want to take a stab at lightly theorizing this renaissance. And also speculating, in light of this renaissance, about what might be the eighth and penultimate death of blogging. And the future of books. So it’s going to be a sprawling, messy hot take on the State of Textual Media. Or at least a simmering take, since I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a year on the backburner.

You should read the whole thing - and I don’t disagree with Vgr, the landscape of blogging is shifting and changing. Where Venkatesh explores technologies I’m going to explore themes and see where we get. Consider this a side of fries to enjoy alongside the Ribbonfarm burger…

Wither the Indexes

An index is a curious thing. PageRank - search on static sites.

Simple sites with simple curation is still powerful and I think an under-represented aspect of the modern web. Organizing, crowdsourcing

This is where Substack suffers. This is where Roam suffers.

Surface area.

This is how we replace RSS - with smart hubs. maybe these are the answer.

Interactive Writing

Whether this is hand-rolled HTML, static sites like Jekyll, Hugo or the new hotness Gatsby the bar is becoming lower and lower for creating this kind of experience. “I want text to be used as an environment to think in.”


Presentations are hard to blog today!

Slideshare is toast

Re-usable Components

The trick to all of this is re-useable components. We need a better marketplace of components for Jekyll:

There’s hope here - because installing a WP plugin is too heavy and risky for a simple in-line element. But Gatsby and Jekyll both handle this gracefully and easily with something that is more like copy and pasting than installing.

What happens when Medium implodes?

Will the writing return to blogs? has exploded as a niche Medium-esque writing destination. Perhaps the collapse of Medium will see a bunch of more focused writing verticals emerge?

Broken Comments

Disqus is failed and… what will replace it? A tradgedy of the commons is the communcal failure to build consistent commenting interctions that people use.

AVC abandoned in favor of linking to Twitter threads but Twitter is a poor product for this kind of nested threaded multi-user discussion.

Hypothesis is great but suffers from poor UX and lack of resources - and their focus is on education so they lack broad consumer awareness.

Freeform spaces

Small-b Blogging

Still no effective way to measure influence.

In Conclusion

Blogging needs to:

  • Reinvent comments
  • Rebuild new indexes and hubs
  • Lean into easy to use components
  • Build new measures of influence

If it wants to stay ahead of the chopping block.