What “should” a post look like?
Article Posted: 526 words
The form of a blog doesn’t matter. You might be reading this on the web (“as intended,” as it were). But I also have RSS feeds, so you could be reading this on your smartwatch in 2039, or via direct visual projection in 2059. Heck, it’s a blog post — nothing but words — so someone could have copy-pasted this post and put it in an email forward chain, or a Facebook post. I don’t know.
So a blog should be minimally intrusive on the main attraction, which is the content. This paragraph, in this body, in this <article> tag, should be the star of the show. Everything else on the blog exists to either 1) Make this article easier to read or 2) Make this article easier to find. Anything that doesn’t do one of those two things is a distraction.
Into the Book used to be a contributor-driven book reviews website, which I started in 2009, before drifting into inactivity around 2016 or 2017. In 2019, I unpublished almost all of the third-party contributions, and began remodeling with an eye towards setting up a personal blog.
For this blog, that means a few things. Article pages are going to look pretty spartan. This theme might be a default stand-in, but it does a good job of surfacing the content and giving it center stage.
When I finish a redesign, I would like to lean into a few of the multimedia capabilities of a blog. I’m fascinated by the ability to interleave text, music, video, images, all in one stream that makes sense as a cohesive unit. A traditional magazine article, for example, has access to almost none of these niceties.
(For example, I’d love for my essay on my Great-Nana to include some audio recordings, some pictures. If there is background content that can add additional layers of context to the main focus (the article) then that’s valuable. Jon bois is really good at this).
February 2023: It’s about reading — not platform building.
Does the format even matter?
The message is the medium.
What matters is words on the page, whether the page is a glowing rectangle, or wood pulp, or some other third thing.
There’s no such thing as posterity for years to come. In ten years, this post might not exist, though I’ll try to make sure it’s still accessible. Let the “established avenues” worry about reputation and how something should look, what the right style guide is. The web is a stream-of-consciousness invention of researchers co-opted by the freaks. We’ve got stuff to say, and it needs to be maximally accessible to the audience, which is anyone. Web design?
Design doesn’t matter so long as the message is clear.
* I’m going to publish this before I regret it. Once published, I leave things the way they are, that’s how I roll. But going back to chronology, should this post be published under February 2023, when the second half was written, or August 2022, when the first half was written? It’s left as an exercise for the reader, though you can see what my decision was.