The Freedom to Write in Different Ways

Platforms need to allow people to write in different forms.

One of the drawbacks I find in creating a loosely structured space for yourself online is that most web platforms have predefined expectations of what they should be and how you should use them, rather than being loosely structured so you can play around with them and create your own customized structure that works for you.

This is why I fell in love with Squarespace in 2004 but by 2014 lost faith in it, as a lot of the functional flexibility that it once had was removed when it was completely rebuilt and relaunched with Version 6.

Today, I love where WordPress is going with the flexibility of blocks, eventually going beyond posts and pages to constructing your entire site with them, but in my opinion it still hasn’t gone far enough on the post level. What I mean by this is WordPress is optimized for long form writing. If you want to do micro-posts (emulating Twitter), you really have to customize its “out of the box” experience substantially to achieve this.

And yet if we want to create a space where we can maintain our self as a “whole”, rather than being scattered across the Web on many different social network platforms, then WordPress needs to be flexible enough to allow a person to emulate the basic post functionality of these others platforms.

For example, if I have a simple one sentence thought that I want to post, I should be able to do this. Of course I can do this on WordPress but it looks awkward and out of place because the context of what your posting doesn’t change the appropriate style of it.

Personally I think this is why blogging, as a whole, lost its momentum because other newer, social network platforms like Twitter and Facebook made it easier to post shorter thoughts. Thus people didn’t feel like they had to write an essay on their blog, because it had a long form expectation to it, whereas these other platforms made short form writing acceptable and even admirable, since achieving clarity and conciseness in fewer words takes some skill.

I think part of the problem in combining these different forms of writing is how does one integrate and display them both on your site? My guess is that short form writing would become your more abundant and easier method of writing with long form posts emerging only once in a while.

When I was on Twitter, I noticed this same pattern. A lot of my posts were one to three tweets in length but then I would have a long thread of say 10 tweets to convey something deeper in meaning. I even remarked that if Twitter enabled a method to combine these tweets into a long form post as a whole, it would be pretty amazing, as you would be able to easily write short form and long form all in one place.

Anyways, in closing this off, I think to convert WordPress to a short form platform first and foremost, you’d really need to change some of its functionality. I’ll cover some of these things in a future post.

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