On Avoiding Default

Continuing a bit of blog tennis (so-called because decades ago I’d planned to launch a site by that name inspired by HotWired’s “brain tennis” feature), Colin Walker explains for me what he means by “consumption by default”, a phrase that I wasn’t quite grokking.

Consumption by default is when we read, watch, or listen to things simply because they are placed in front of us. A social stream is a perfect example. We wouldn’t read most of it if left to our own devices, we would spend more time seeking things out for ourselves or, maybe, creating things.

Spelled out for me, this certainly makes sense, but I remain unconvinced this is a problem for individual blogs (or an individual’s blog) the way it’s a problem in the context of a social media feed’s endless scroll.

I won’t belabor this here, because I already belabored it yesterday (see link above): I simply think that the chronological model of the log is cognitively sensible in the context of one person’s online writing in a way that other forms of organization (say, the “digital garden”, not that Walker brought this up) only confound me and, in essence, scare off me and my autistic brain.

It always, for me, comes down to the distinction between database and narrative as organizing principles. I freely and without anxiety understand a blog; I’ve never been able to explore anyone’s “digital garden”.