My ongoing poking of the ideas of friction and context is a case of everything old being new again, as so much of old-school blogging in fact was exactly this: context-making. What made that this work so simply, so elegantly, and effectively, of course, was the simple inline hyperlink.
Even today, the front page of MetaFilter represents the fundamental model in its most basic form, each post not just providing an interesting link but typically a number of other links helping to flesh out the story of the primary one or its place in some larger world.
If you wanted, and I do, you could argue, and I will, that what endangered the continuing prominence of the context-making that blogging had been developing was the distillation—or perhaps degradation–of so-called microblogging into social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where no markup such as the inline hyperlink is permitted.
What blogging had been doing all along was democratizing context-making for self-selected audiences. What social media did was derail that trajectory by enticing us into becoming mere content-producers for advertisers. And they disguised it all as the democratization of online speech.
Blogging never went away, of course, even if my own personal trajectory has taken me into and out of it at various points over the past twenty years, but the financial, social, and neurochemical allure of social media has held sway.
What I’m saying, I guess, is that my hopes for the once-and-future open web are best summed up by River Tam.
They weren’t cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see sky, and they remember what they are.