Jason Kottke’s post on web magazines, and the subsequent comments, made me think a bit more about what it is that I’m doing on the web, and the “webzine” and weblog genres.
"Suck was a reaction against websites that published in the magazine format. It was daily, short, opinionated, and hyperlinked -- everything that web-as-magazine sites like Slate and Salon were not. When I look at blogs, I recognize a strong family resemblance to Suck -- in the use of links, the tone, and the frequency. It was unlike anything that came before, and shaped much of what came after."
Jason’s response :
(And you're right about Suck's kinship with blogs, but Suck was edited, just like more traditional Web magazines, which is the part I'm more interested in re: this thread. Suck articles were finished and "professional", which is what's missing (I think) from my online reading these days. Does that even make any sense? It's hard to explain what I'm after here.)
When I changed from the weblog format to this concept of a daily, Suck was a strong inspiration. And it was certainly a guiding force in Uber as well. All are focused on one, short, contained essay published a day. As Owen discussed, Suck really was substantially different than the other web publications, and was not a “web magazine.” For lack of a better term, I think of it as the first “webzine.”
While I agree that the editorial process is something missing in the jump from “web magazine” or even webzines to personal websites / weblogs / whatever, unlike Jason I actually find that far less distressing than the general switch from short or medium length essays to the paragraph sized chunks of weblogs. While this is hardly an absolute, and many people do create so-called “weblogs” that are really just collections of essays in reverse chronological order, that’s not really the norm.
It’s not just the length, but the idea of a publishing schedule as well. The concept of delayed publishing changed my writing. Rather than posting sporadically, multiple times throughout the day, I’ve made a conscious decision to publish one entry a day. This doesn’t mean I necessarily write one entry a day. Sometimes I write a bunch, and put them in a publishing queue and they are published automatically. Sometimes I begin something, and don’t finish it until months later. In any event, I spend more time on individual entries before they are posted, and nothing is ever posted immediately after I write it. This distance between writing and publishing, even if it’s artificially induced, again, I found really different from the hyper-speed world of weblogs.
While I certainly agree that editing is important, I think the larger issue is that sometimes, we just need to slow things down. Just because the technology exists that allows you to instantly publish short bursts ten times a day doesn’t mean that’s the best way to write.
Sometimes you just need to relax things. What I write may not be finished, or professional, but I like to think it’s slightly better than a hastily blurted out rough draft.
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