Your Words are Wasted – Scott Hanselman

In his 2012-08-19 Blog post, Your words are wasted, Scott Hanselman pleas for the cyber-presence I yearn for: ability to easily create and manage my own content and make it easily available.

I cling to that ambition despite my blogging having achieved the comatose state observed in the decline of so many blogs.

Scott’s simplistic answer is “own your own space and pay for it.”  That may be the heart of it.  The devil is in the details.

Over time, I have managed to do that, although the publicly-reached space is rented on a web-hosting service.  The content on the space is entirely under my control, is authored on hardware that I own and control, and is backed up on my personal systems.  Although I rely heavily on Windows Live Writer, I retain all of the drafts on my personal development system and the published, static pages are preserved in source-controlled backups and on a development web server.

It is an unmitigated pain to manage and maintain all of that.  I have become more and more of my own IT system administrator and less and less freely making blog posts.  I don’t scale at this.

Somehow, I need to raise my aim a few levels on this.  I fancy some sort of federation mechanism that allows me to curate and own my own content and also extend socially, via commenting, RSS, and other mechanisms.  I’m not at all sure I’m the one to build it.

We have diffuse presence in the world and we don’t seem to mind that.  But the diffuse nature of our sociality in cyberspace is broken into disparate silos and that does disturb some of us: If I am watching twitter, I am not writing for my blog.  If I am tweeting and re-tweeting, I am not writing for my blog.  If I am putting photos on Flickr, I am not putting photos on Facebook or TwitPic (although I am always retaining the originals on my private system).  And in all of these, I am not necessarily attending to the 5Ps, focusing my creativity where there is a lasting contribution.

In short, there is too much freakin’ friction in all directions, in ways that I dream of having be otherwise.

I was participating on-line (they said “virtually,” which I resist) in the first Identity Ecosystem Steering Group Plenary meeting.  The chair of the newly-created Usability (to be renamed User Experience) Working Group pointed out, in providing a summary report to the body at the end of the Plenary meeting, that “usability is about removing friction, but not removing so much friction that the user can too easily get into trouble.” 

I think the usability sweet spot for our independent social and creative cyberspace presence remains to be discovered. 

As a geek, I am attracted to know more about Ward Cunningham’s Smallest Federated Wiki.  Although that effort seems to wander off into nerdvana, I am intrigued by the core concept, including the prospect for self-hosting and sharing promiscuously in all directions.  Appropriate usability will depend on how such interesting machinery can be delivered under a facade that is simple to grow into while preserving conceptual clarity.  The usual questions about identity and safety will also have to be dealt with by confidence-deserving trustworthiness.

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