Linked List

Earlier today I read Stephen M. Hackett's take on the blogging format and it stimulated a number thoughts of my own. For those uninitiated, a linked list blog post is one whose title, when clicked or opened in the browser from an RSS feed, directs you to another page. Typically this would be the original source of content that the writer is referencing.

This format lends itself really well to those who choose to write about breaking news. The writer typically writes a very short commentary and includes a small quotation from the source they link to, perhaps. The hope being that their viewers will read all of the content they link to in order to understand those comments fully. The most infamous example of this style of blogging would have to be John Gruber's Daring Fireball.

This is most beneficial for those people that read a lot of content in a day and have a particularly strong writing skills. I mention the last point because it is incredibly hard to add a useful dimension to longer-form content in just a few lines. While it is not necessary that you are confined to a few lines, the format does not lend itself well to more extensive writing. Every writer who uses the linked list format maintains "regular" blog posts for longer thought development.

Personally, I do not feel capable of adding anything to the conversation in such a confined format. I feel my writing ability and education about these subjects needs more time to mature; a lack of skill forbids me from extending the conversation in just a few sentences. No one needs to waste their time reading my commentary if all I have to say is "this", or "worth reading".

So, instead of wasting everyone's time I am using my blog's Twitter account as my the home of all my "linked list" posts.1 If someone wants a more permanent record2 I will compile them weekly into a single list of worthwhile content and post that.

This also effectively clears up my second issue that I have with the posting format. When I read through my RSS feeds each day I end up opening a lot of tabs and/or saving a lot of posts to Instapaper. Typically after I've managed to go through the entire list I will have forgotten who linked to this content. I then have to spend some time hunting down whose link I've followed to attribute them in my writing, or I scrap my plans to write entirely.

Attribution is incredibly important to myself and my work. If someone created something worthwhile, they deserve the credit for that work. And if someone found that work and brought it to my attention, they also deserve the credit. That's only fair.

tl;dr3

I will slowly begin phasing out my use of the format. Hopefully this will begin a shift to more thoughtful, well developed, and longer-form writing. My earlier thought that this style was necessary for writing on the internet was just plain wrong. I now see the linked list as style that only works for a small subsection of the community, which Stephen summed up best:

Don’t forget, the majority of sites on the Internet work like 512 Pixels. DF-style blogs are only found in our corner of the Internet…


  1. In addition to syndicating my blog's RSS feed on Twitter. 

  2. Twitter only allows an accessible archive of the past week or so. From [Twitter's Documentation][6]: "The Search API is not complete index of all Tweets, but instead an index of recent Tweets. At the moment that index includes between 6-9 days of Tweets" (emphasis my own). 

  3. Updated 2012-03-10: Editing that should have been performed before posting, not afterwards. 

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