Content and Voice

It works like this: A blogger spends lots of time finding cool stuff on the internet (let’s use the example of a blogger who blogs about modern art) . The blogger finds an artist’s website. The blogger grabs some of the photos of the art and posts them on his own site with a mention of the artist’s site at the bottom of the article. All is okay because the blogger cites the artist’s original website? No problem. Right?

The problem is that there is now no real need to visit the original source. We’ve seen the content that we want to see.

I’ve not posted much here lately and there is a reason. It’s not because I’ve been busy (but I have been). It’s not because I’ve been working on another personal project that’s taking up my time (but I have been). But it’s because I’m consciously taking this site into a new direction.

This site has long been loosely labeled as my “personal website”. And I don’t consider it much more than that. It doesn’t fit neatly under the heading “portfolio site”, as I don’t post any professional work I do here. I have since the beginning of this website, linked to external sites that I find interesting. I will occasionally post a photo from the linked website to hopefully give an overview of what to expect, and entice a reader to click away. This was always my intent.

There is much ado about content curation and linking and hat-tips and vias and other silly names which are fancy ways of saying: Linking to another website, sometimes crediting who showed it to you.

I do it. I have a whole section (called notes) dedicated to stuff that I suppose I would loosely call cool. They are links elsewhere and my intent is that you visit those links. I want you to leave this site and go see something cool. I have even occasionally taken an image from the linked site hoping that it would further encourage you to visit it.

But I don’t believe I’ve crossed a line. It’s a hard line to define, but there is a line. It goes without saying that I never want to pass off someone else’s work as my own. But that’s not enough.

The internet is a publishing platform. People (be they journalists, artists, bloggers or doodlers) work hard to create their work, and publish this work. If I see something cool, I may post a link to it. I hope you click all the links I post and go see something cool. It’s the artist’s or writer’s work. And I hope you see that cool thing on the artist’s or writer’s site.

My intent is not to alleviate the need to go the original source. And no website should operate this way. But many do. There are many sites that use blockquotes (or not blockquotes) to quote passages of an original article found elsewhere and they do so with such wild abandon that there’s no need to actually visit the original article. The blogger (or link curator) doesn’t have to do all of the dirty work of actually creating anything original and indeed barely needing to have an original thought. It’s a practice rewarded with lots readers and visits from search engines.

These days I’m hoping to shift the direction of this site to showing work I’m working on and doing less linking to cool stuff (you can follow me on Twitter for that, Twitter is a better forum for that sort of thing anyhow). Sure, I’ll loose traffic, but I care more about what I say and having my own voice than how many people hear it.