There’s been an adjustment to how I’m posting the August photoblogging challenge. I’d started yesterday by including some copy that used the day’s prompt. I’m not going to be doing that after all. It’s up to you to have a sense, or not, of how my photos fit.

There’s been something wrong with my cognition and impulse control the last two days when blogging. There was the Wheeler item where despite knowing I was writing about his police chief I typed the acting secretary of DHS. Then this, where I either meant to mention each of what these three people wrote or I just wrongly linked them together without thinking about it at all. I honestly don’t know which. I’ve cleared out my reading list for the day and am going to assume to start with that I’m not posting at all today, unless it’s something essentially frivolous.

Medium is testing themes, and Andy Baio quips that “they’re slowly turning into Blogspot”. It does seem to look like a sort of Blogspot/Tumblr hybrid without the reblogs. What caught my attention, though, was the bit about “fictionless reading”.

Most digital media experiences are full of friction: you are presented with an array of headlines and have to constantly decide, “Do I care enough to click?”

As a result, we spend much of our time online skimming, evaluating, and browsing, often ending up more overwhelmed than enlightened. In comparison, experiences like magazines, blogs, or feed-based social apps draw you into content immediately.

This gets the friction problem almost entirely wrong.

Reading and writing on the web is in need of more friction, not less. Experiences should encourage you to linger, or re-read, or ponder; or, perhaps, comment. Experiences should not encourage you just to speed right on ahead to the next thing.

I’ve debated back and forth on whether or not to include the next and previous links on my blog posts because I genuinely can’t decide if even they are too little friction.

I still need a WordPress plugin or custom function that turns on comments for any posts appearing in On This Day, and then turns them off after. As interesting old stuff appears in OTD, I’d like for people to be able to comment on them.

Adam Tinworth reacts (on his blog; I refuse to say blogletter) to Ian Silvera declaring (in his newsletter) that the new rise of newsletters is “not the new blogosphere” and focuses in on a couple of important differences.

This is the one critical idea that was central to early blogging that has not (yet) been widely embraced by newsletters: the sense that bloggers were a community and that the discussion was going on between them. Why did this matter? Well, for one it helped define the voice of blogging – more conversational, more discursive that traditional journalism. That seems less striking now, two decades on, because mainstream journalism has largely appropriated that tone of voice for good or (I’d argue) ill.

But the other thing it brought was discovery – the ability to find other blogs worth reading. This was an era before Twitter, Facebook or many of the tools of discovery we use now. Search — and Google in particular — did exist. And it was one way of finding new readers. But a link from another well-read blogger was the real win you hoped for.

I might agree that some mainstream journalism has adopted the conversational tone of blogging, but only in form not so much function. Mainstream reporters don’t spend a lot of time talking to each other in their reporting. Blogging helped remind people that journalism isn’t, in fact, written by some objective, dispassionate observer floating high above the events of the corporeal world, but by people with their own bodies of blood and bone like the rest of us.

Journalism still doesn’t typically include reporters talking to or interrogating each other, however, so there are limits to which “the voice of blogging” has been carried over.

I do wonder to what degree both community and discovery — and I mean this not only for the new newsletters but for both what remains of the old blogosphere and what there is of a new quasi-blogosphere — simply is undercut by social media’s absorption of (and degradation of) that aspect of blogging.

I’d also continue here my own disdain for the degree to which blogging was consumed by “content marketing”, which results in so much of it being preoccupied by brand building. It’s not at all, as Om Malik would have it, that “what matters is constant engagement with your community/audience”.

What matters is that you blog, whether the “audience” is there or not, because you can’t help but do that.

Hey, makers of feed readers: do any of you make use of comments-related (sub)elements in RSS feeds? For example, I notice that my WordPress post feeds, within each item element, have both a comments sub-element linking the comments area of the post, and a namespace-declared wfw:commentRss sub-element linking the RSS feed for that post’s comments. Are there any readers that make use of these in any fashion, or are they ignored? If ignored, why does WordPress bother with them? It seems like there’s some opportunity here to help engagement with blogs, either by simply linking these things inline, or in some part of the reader UI, or even by bringing a post back into the reader as “new” if comments have been added and displaying the comments themselves inline.

Hey, RSS folks: if WordPress actually bothered with a <comments> sub-element in its main feed, would RSS readers make use of it to provide a link to a post’s comments? I’m trying to find a way for my RSS feed to easily direct people to a post’s comments section. I was going to use a plugin to automagically append a link to the comments section within RSS content but that raises its own issues elsewhere.