The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Current Publishing Trends

Lest I mislead you with this title, I’m focused mostly on personal sites here. I don’t care much for the trends of bigger publications; those with their overlaid ads or “enjoy 1 of 5 free articles” banners. But the trend I’m referring to for smaller, more personal and less corporate sites is a move away from the structure of the traditional blog towards a larger focus.

In talking about relevancy vs. recency, my pal Shawn Blanc discussed his own site. He was making the comparison between relevancy and recency, where the traditional blog style leans towards the new and perhaps the future is to focus on the best. The best any site has to offer.

To sum it up, he made this statement:

It pairs perfectly with another idea I’ve been chewing on: a business model that (surprise!) is based on providing the most amount of value to the most amount of people.

And make no mistake: when you write for a living, your own website is a business.

I appreciate Shawn’s desire to not succumb to the fast web and it’s never-ending hamster wheel mentality. Personal weblogs are not news publications and one should write their best, not simply write frequently. However, I came away from Shawn’s article lamenting a couple of things.

First, a bit of a tangent. A lot of sites (big or small) are starting to remove dates from articles. Whether it’s so the content appears to be evergreen or SEO tactics or other, it’s bad form. The date is an important piece of information about an article.

There’s nothing wrong with tweaking the architecture of a site to highlight the best or most relevant work. But leaving the date out completely is a bad practice.

Second, and more important, I hope the personal blog as a form of entertainment does not die. When I began blog reading (10 years ago or so), it completely replaced television for me. Reading blogs was entertainment. And they’re a great form of entertainment because you can also be informed, challenged, and inspired while you are entertained.

Shawn is a great example. I started reading his site because he wrote about topics I cared about. Software, design, and various other nerdy topics. Now that he’s focused completely on creativity and how people work, his site has become (almost) singularly focused. And while I still enjoy reading his work … I probably enjoy his site a little less than I did in the past. I miss his writing on other topics I care about.

The Internet, like most every human institution, is cyclical. The current trend is towards sites that have a singular focus. I’ll catch ya on the flip side!

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