I recently came across a Pinboard user‘s note on a bookmark: “Overly commercial tone but looks useful.” That simple note made me think about the web and linking and what it all means to me. On the same day, I caught up with a conversation at Micro.blog, where @kicks had asked me several thought-provoking questions I’ve been pondering since then. He really got me thinking about about the web and linking – so here we are. I hope I address at least some of his questions.
The indieweb and platforms like Micro.blog are helping to bring the personal web back home.
The web was amazing before Web 2.0 and the advent of so-called social networks. Many people had their own sites and blogs from which they shared ideas and interacted with others in the community at large. It seemed to me like meeting others in their own homes back then and there was a widespread enthusiasm for blogging and personal expression. Then came the big social networks. With time, many personal sites and blogs disappeared from the web as people flocked to the big silos where their content became a heavily monitized commodity. To me, the web had lost much of its soul as people gathered in just a few, huge noise chambers.
Fortunately, things seem to be reversing in the last few years thanks to the indieweb movement and unique platforms like Micro.blog where blogging meets smaller social networks in a setting where meaningful interaction can take place. For a curator (of sorts) like me, I’m thankful to see this happening. Current trends and a rebirth of personal blogging certainly make the type of curation I do much easier, thank you. Had it not been for that stimulating conversation, I probably would not have been writing this.
My ‘curation hobby’
The phrase ‘curation hobby‘ came from @bradenslen in that same conversation. I thought it pretty well describes something I’ve been doing on the web since ’97. I’ve done other things on the web but it’s curation, linking if you will, I’ve mostly focused on. Why?
Hypertext links are magical to me and what I know about the topic of linking is purely subjective. I understand my own motivation for sharing links and what kind of links I like but there’s all kinds of motivations and tastes out there. There always has been.
On one hand, I curate links for my own ongoing use. Kicks asked if surfing is “a kind of skill.” To me, it’s more a pastime which I enjoy. Having links to so many sites I find enjoyable and/or useful and free of certain annoyances and tones serves me well. It helps me enjoy surfing the web. On the other hand, the icing on my little curation cake is that others with similar tastes in content and user experience might also benefit from my efforts. In that regard, to answer another of Kicks’ questions, people finding me and finding some of my links enjoyable and/or useful are important to me, but not as important as my being able to find new links which fit my own preferences as to content and user experience.
Regarding another thing Kicks asked about: Aside from evolving html, accessibility, and design standards and practices, I’m really not sure if linking, in general, has changed over the years. I’ve been doing it the same since day one. But that’s just me.
In closing, I want to mention something else Kicks said:
Having a ‘linkpost’ at least provides an intersection between worlds where people can find each other.
I couldn’t agree more. Providing points at which people might discover new things (and other people) is a key part of my motivation in linking from my little corner of the web.