Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 12:45 PM

My manifesto for web writing

Om Malik said it best: "The obsessive coverage of Ello is less about Ello. Instead it really is about our growing dissatisfaction with the state of social networks."

That's a great summary of the piece that follows, which I will manually cross-post to a bunch of different places, for reasons that will become obvious as you read it. Which I hope you do.

I'm trying to get my writing to take place in my space, with my tools. That way I can tweak them and make them work better. And have the writing distributed and automatically updated in all the different places people want to read it. Today, for me, that means posting to my blog, to Facebook, posting a link to Twitter, and putting it out on my linkblog feed.

But when a new system shows up without an API, as several have, that means I can't push my writing to them, unless I use their editor to write it, or resort to copy/paste. In 2014, it's ridiculous that I can't automate that. I was writing scripts that did that kind of stuff when I was a grad student in the late 70s.

The web of 2014 is in the middle of a huge battle to force people to write the stuff in the same place people read it. Whether you hate advertising or not doesn't matter, it's all part of the same system. You make me, as a writer, choose either to give it all to you, or none to you. And yet the underlying network that doesn't have these limits.

What do other people want? Maybe they can write about it. I know what I want. I want to be a powerful communicator. Maybe I'd be willing to sacrifice some of the power if one of these guys was offering to pay me. But so far the money goes to their founders and a few others, and tiny amounts of money go to professional writers and academics. So our work is a labor of love. But here's the problem -- I don't feel love for any of these environments. Quite the opposite. I know what's possible, and I resent the fact that they're deliberately thwarting it. I do love the web, and all that it enables. But if I use the web to communicate, I forgo access to all the people who have locked themselves into the silos.

My option, which is also probably yours, is to accept the worst deal possible: really weak writing tools with confusing interfaces, no standards, and very narrow access to your thinking by others, restricted by who's looking at their silo when it happens to come out. This is a terrible deal.

I really want to, now more than ever, build an open network of writing and ideas. I'd be happy to use great writing tools, and be able to distribute my ideas exclusively to other people who value freedom. To me, that's a fair trade-off.

PS: Why services launch without APIs.

Last built: Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 5:50 PM

By Dave Winer, Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 12:45 PM. Still diggin!