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Embracing obscurity

One of the things I like about blogging is how allusive and suggestive you can be. On social media you respond directly to someone else’s bon mot, but on a blog you can explore an idea in its own space. You have to explicitly create the link between your thought and anything that informed it.

Similarly, often we can sense who is reading us through what they publish on their blog. Even if they’re not, this recognition of familiar thoughts adds a layer of meaning and interest.

In this spirit of allusion and obscurity, I’ve decided, for the time being at least, to get rid of comments on this website, including webmention backlinks. I will keep my webmention endpoint and, if you don’t send webmentions, I may well be subscribed to your site’s RSS feed. So there’s every chance I’ll discover what you write – it just won’t appear on the site unless I choose to link to it. Of course, you can just tell me by sending an email.

This has a couple of additional benefits. Most practically, ditching comments and webmentions means the site builds in about a third of the time. I also don’t have to worry about a host of dependencies.

More interestingly (for me, at least), it provides a possible answer to the perennial why bother writing about writing, webmentions, Mastodon etc? question. If I shift from the how and the mechanics of gathering direct feedback I think I’ll feel freer to concentrate on the writing itself, and how it relates to the web. The more indirect and allusive I am, the more interesting I’ll find it.

Who cares about social media validation or backposting anyway? Twitter made writing a gruesome exercise in creating an online “brand” through publicly tallying up replies, retweets and likes. Removing the direct link between what is published and any response it provokes will perhaps get me to write for “purer” motives.

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