I’ve been thinking lately about weblog format standards, and what readers come to expect. This quote from Jason Kottke regarding a change in the way he handles his “remaindered links” sums up my frustration with current trends:
Not having to … feel like I need to write something of substance to justify a post with a title and it’s own archive page (as with my main posts…it’s kind of amazing how post titles and individual archives have made blog posts seem more like magazine or newspaper articles than, well, blog posts)
Exactly. Inititally, weblogs were short spurts of links and context, sometimes with a date heading, but usually never with a proper title. Titles have since grown in popularity (and also used here on SimpleBits), but I agree with Jason, in that it’s turned weblogs into more of article-based, newspaper-like format. It’s not neccessarily a bad thing, but personally, I’ve been finding it limiting in the amount of content I can feasibly post here.
Often, I have a quick thought or something I want to point out that eventally gets tossed to the backburner, and then never posted. There’s pressure to craft a title and turn this quick bit into a proper “article”. This takes time. Time, I (and plenty of you out there) don’t have much of these days. It would also push a potentially more important article, further down the page. Separate mini link lists help with offering two simultaneous streams — but they have their own limiting characteristics as well (description length, etc.).
Feeds require a title and description, and have certainly steered us into this convention. The increase in feeds has also affected our reading habits — do people prefer reading long articles, short bursts of links and commentary, or both? Do weblogs that post shorter, more frequent entries annoy feed reading folks that just come to expect the occassional completely-well-thought-out-article-that contains-the-next-best-thing?
Personally, I enjoy weblogs that combine both (Kottke is a nice example) and maybe I’ll gravitate toward that model eventually — folding back in the original concept of what a weblog once was. It could be liberating for me, and hopefully not annoying for you.