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Next-Gen Blogging

jbranchaud profile image Josh Branchaud ・5 min read

Blogging is an age-old part of the web. It can be as simple as writing and hosting HTML pages or publishing through a centralized, walled-garden platform like Medium. It can be as complex as building your own self-hosted solution using all the bleeding-edge web tech.

In this post, I want to share some big and small innovations in blogging that have me excited for where the medium is headed.

This post is the product of a thread I tweeted earlier this month.

🔀 Personal Again

First, there has been a general movement, within the web dev community, from platforms like Medium back to personal, self-hosted blogs. There are a lot of factors playing into this trend and reasons you might consider making blogging personal again. Give It's time to get personal a read if you want to know more.

🌱 Digital Gardens

I'm seeing a growing contingent of people explore this idea of a digital garden. "To me, a digital garden is a digital space full of interconnected ideas and information that you collect, curate, tend to, and learn from over time." People are embracing a Learn in Public mentality and ditching the publish button. This makes the web a more spontaneous, interesting, and collaborative place.

Here are some active digital gardens:

⚠ Post In Progress

Kurt Kemple recently shared an idea he implemented in his own digital garden. He adds indicators to posts to help signal whether they are still growing (🌱) or whether they have fully bloomed (🌸).

This idea plays nicely with digital gardens because it embraces this idea of writing without publishing while still acknowledging the work that you polished and completed. In terms of swyx's Digital Garden Terms of Service, it assumes the right to be wrong (or incomplete) and helps indicate that to readers.

🍯 Blogging Honeypots

I’ve heard that swyx sometimes creates placeholder posts on his blog. If he sees that enough people click through to it or there are requests for it to be written, then he writes it.

I love this concept because I find myself with an ever-growing list of topics and ideas for blog posts. I'm never going to get to all of them. When I do find time to blog, it can be hard to know which one to pick up and write on. A blogging honeypot gives you some click-through numbers and maybe even twitter and email interactions that suggest what topics others would be interested in you writing about.

📨 Newsletter-ify Your Blog

Kent C. Dodds and many others pre-release the content of a blog post in their newsletter. They later publish that content to their blog. This is a chance to reach more of your audience, the way they want to be reached. It's one of many ways to multi-leverage your content.

You can take this a step further with a shadow newsletter that sends out date-less evergreen content whenever someone subscribes.

🔡 Blogging Primitives

Tom Critchlow recently wrote about the idea of blogging patterns and primitives. Of the examples he shared, the one that caught my attention is the <detail> tag. I like the simplicity of it. It is built-in to The Platform™ as just HTML, yet it seems like a powerful way to make explorable, information dense pages -- like one might want to do with a digital garden.

Because so much blogging is done in markdown, I believe MDX has something exciting to offer in terms of blogging primitives as well.

⛓ Blogchains

"A blogchain is longform by other means. Containerized longform if you like. A themed blog-within-a-blog, built as a series of short, ideally fixed-length posts."
-Venkatesh Rao, Constructions in Magical Thinking

This idea of a blogchain comes from Venkatesh Rao and others at ribbonfarm. Tom Critchlow uses blogchains and has written about how to build blogchains - check it out.

🎛 Make It Interactive

As JavaScript-based web tooling continues to get better (e.g. the React ecosystem), there are more and more opportunities to introduce interactivity into our blog posts.

I'm sure there are a ton of people doing exciting things in this category--let me know of your favorites--but the person that has stood out to me is Josh Comeau. Several of Josh's blog posts have interactive demos that he uses to teach concepts in an engaging way as you read through the post. Here is a fun one on dynamic bézier curves.

📆 Ditch Chronology

Most blogs we see have some sort of index page that lists every single post in reverse-chronological order. I feel like this post from
Amy Hoy, How the Blog Broke the Web, is calling us back to hand crafted and curated webpages and blogs.

Here are some great examples of writers making their content accessible in a way that doesn't just list everything by date.

Conclusion

In case you hadn't noticed, many of these ideas cascade with one another. They tie together and make each other work better. I encourage you to explore these next-gen innovations in blogging, try applying them to your own blog and let me know when you do, I'd love to check it out.

Are there innovations in blogging that you're excited about that I missed, tell me about it on twitter.

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jbranchaud profile

Josh Branchaud

@jbranchaud

I'm a developer and consultant focused primarily on the web, specializing in React, Ruby on Rails, and PostgreSQL. Newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/jbranchaud

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