Listlogs express joy

Reflecting on why I’m even writing this series of blogs.

A post for #WeblogPoMo2024.

It’s really strange that I’m writing about a particular Tumblr account that I maintained for about five years over a decade ago. Why that blog, and why now?

At its core, bensinterests was a linklog. It wasn’t really original content in the main, it was an unordered directory of stuff which I just happened to like.

Barry Hess has just published a blogpost which talks about how Google’s algorithm and the pivot to AI content and discovery has generally poisoned much of the findable web and how that could be overcome:

We should continue to spread the word about how we use the web, which is very personally and as active participants.

Linklogs are the very embodiment of that idea. What you’re publishing is a series of links to things that you want others to pay attention to. You’re identifying the cream of the web and presenting it to a discerning audience or even just logging it for your own discovery later on. You’re saying that this is important in some way.

Linklogs can be on all sorts of topics and show all sorts of moods. The Web3 Is Going Just Great linklog is very cynical; Daring Fireball comes across as increasingly cranky. No doubt there are ones which are matter-of-fact, or bureaucratic, or angry, or outright rude.

Not every linklog is the same. The best ones, the ones I identify with, the ones which are closest to what bensinterests was all about, are the ones that express joy.

In April 2015, I posted this quote to bensinterests without attribution:

“The secret of happiness is in knowing this: that we live by the law of expenditure. We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are. There are tides in the ocean of life, and what comes in depends on what goes out. The currents flow inward only where there is an outlet. […]”

Just a few days ago, Lou Plummer posted this on their statuslog

“Years ago, I had a colleague who posted the same message repeatedly on social media, “It’s Friday, Bitches!” I appreciated that man and his unbridled joy at the end of every work week. The world needs all the joy it can get.

In 2015, my internet life was filled with the joy of discovery. By the time I stopped posting, evidently that joy was gone.

It’s 2024. We’re in a situation where discovery of content by talented, friendly, happy people is obscured by content dumps trying to gain search algorithms, by a move to delivering knowledge via AI feedback, and by the crumbling walls of all those gated communities creating people who don’t know where they can even post any more.

Lou is right. The would does need all the joy it can get, and it needs to be able to easily publish and easily discover that joy. I’m not convinced we’re there yet but the rise of small blogging services like Pika, Scribbles, and Bear suggest we’re going in the right direction in allowing anyone to publish easily without paying some massive conglomerate with either money or data.

I don’t see many listlogs popping up though. Perhaps that’s what Mastodon etc is for? It’s great how people like Cory Dransfeldt have a catalogue of interesting links on their site. Maybe that’s the way forward?