No More Content Feudalism
Internet companies rise and fall. Sometimes the descent is slow and painful (MySpace), sometimes a crash (Magnolia), sometimes the downward trajectory hasn’t started but is clearly inevitable (Instagram). Every company that relies on your content to support its business model is a point of risk for you losing your information. Even services with honest revenue models (Flickr, app.net, Pinboard) can go down without warning.
I have no problem giving my content to other services. My poor Twitter followers know that. But I do have a problem when I become dependent on that service to store my words. I refuse to cultivate content in a feudalistic publishing ecosystem; I refuse to be a serf reliant on a distant lord for access, permission, and privacy. I want to share my content, not have my content sharecropped.
Our websites are our own. Graphicpush, in particular, houses a decade of writing. To me, it’s worth protecting.
Three Categories of Content
- Ephemeral bullshit thoughts. Music opinions, political links, cat videos, insipid brain farts, anger management speed-therapy, and thinly disguised argument baiting. Twitter is the dumping ground for this collection of crap.
- Important bookmarks and slightly longer thoughts. These are not passing links, but referencable bookmarks. They include a sentence or two of commentary.
- Long-form articles and blog posts. The quality and timeliness of these vary, but they required time to write and are, for better or worse, part of the permanent archive.
I could publish all of these things on graphicpush, and then syndicate out to miscellaneous services. That’s overkill. “Poopin” tweets do not need a permanent home. Frankly, if I don’t want my own mom as a follower, I’m pretty sure I don’t want a future archivist digging up my tweets.
But content categories #2 and #3 are worth publishing from a central source and syndicating out. Graphicpush is the source, not a facsimile. This is the model Tantek Çelik described. Others, including Jeremy Keith, have evangelized it.
Pushing It Out
- Links on graphicpush have their own XML feed. A new bookmark gets published to Delicious and syndicated to app.net simultaneously.
- If I give the bookmark a hashtag of #tw, it gets syndicated to Twitter as well.
- I created a new category called “256” for short-form thoughts. This also has its own XML feed. Items published to this category appear in the main feed of the site and are simultaneously syndicated to app.net. App.net’s lovely API handles both the text of the post and reference the post’s canonical URL. (Sample.)
- New long-form posts, no matter what length, push an update to Twitter, app.net, and Feedburner (who make it pretty for traditional RSS readers)2.
- I’ve started a photo-pushing service, but I don’t much care about pictures so I’m not sure that will ever get done.
So the tedious linking to these services is eliminated, and my website remains the central content authority. If Twitter, app.net, Delicious or any future service crumbles to dust, my content remains intact. If my website fails, I have a SQL backup. If that fails, I have a backup career as a park ranger.
Can This Apply To Organizations?
Actually, even more so. The larger the organization, the more complex the governance of content, and operating it from a Single Source of Truth — whether that be a WCM, WPS, a third-party application or a homegrown system — becomes increasingly important.
Blog post syndication, new webinar announcements, job openings and more can be orchestrated together. Some of these become automated based on triggers, but most of it is simply planned and written more efficiently. Less guesswork. Fewer mistakes. Consistency and scheduling that support a broader content strategy.
Content is mine, not theirs.
Content is centrally maintained.
Content is syndicated automatically.
Content is archived on my rules.
If a service goes out of business, gets hit by a meteor, jeopardizes my privacy or alters their TOS to a point of incongruousness, that faucet can be turned off and those sellouts can go fuck themselves.
2 I do not have a Facebook account. I’ve sold my digital soul to every demon except Zuckerberg.