On Asides

I was going to publish this yesterday but something happened – I’ve forgotten what – so I saved it as draft and I’ve just seen it. (Actually, I’ve just seen it and deleted it so I whatever is now below this wasn’t actually written yesterday but the seed for it was. You know what I mean :) )

Asides. I don’t care for them particularly. I’ve said this before somewhere – probably a couple of places – and while if you like them that’s great, I don’t. Still, I’m not the fount of all things weblog, so it doesn’t really matter, but anyway…
A couple of years ago, I guess a lot of us found our ‘linklog’ site – those sites that were literally just lists of kooky links. Apparently a guy called Kottke turned this into something cool (that’s not to say he or it is or is not cool, it’s just that for a while the phrase ‘Kottke’s Remaindered Links’ seemed to be on everyone’s wish-list-type thing) and Linklogs were in. Then, in WP, Matt writes his ‘asides’ hack. It was that popular, I did two guides :)

And I hated them. All of a sudden, blogs seemed to turn into linklogs overnight. And this was happening at a time when the linklogs I was watching were striving to NOT look like linklogs (I’m not linking to Attu / Coolios et al .. you go find). It was strange seeing blogs reduced to one or two line entries while the linklogs would craft paragraphs with the links contained in clever language. So I got annoyed when I saw blogs with these ‘asides’ on. Annoyed for two reasons:
– it became the in thing to do, but then I have implemented stuff here which is equally hopping onto a bandwagon
– there was less to read on a blog. Sometimes a lot less. Maybe someone posted 3 times (an aside each time) to their blog so felt less need to write a full entry.
Annoyed. I didn’t like them. That was the gist of what I wrote yesterday – it was me having a go at asides. But I’m really glad I didn’t.

Asides teach me things. Not the links themselves – hell no – but the nature of the links. Because it brings more of an immediacy to posting an entry, it shows me more about the person behind the blog. If you want to takes days to carefully construct entries so as to convey a certain personality to your audience, then you can’t afford to use anything like asides can you ? You can’t because the effort of maintaining that false persona would creep through.
I can’t recall right now the number of times when I’ve gone to a regularly-read blog and seen an aside which is so far out of their normal loop – yet they posted it, it interested them, it helps to build more of a picture of that person, it makes their blog more human.

Asides. I like them. They look good on you anyway :)

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6 thoughts on “On Asides

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head as far as my use of ‘asides’ is concerned. On my site I’ve removed the capability for anybody to comment on an asides link. That’s because it’s something that’s interested me (and I might want to find it again) or it’s my version of “Heckling at the World” and it might just need a “This is stupid” or “This is really interesting” comment from me – and yet don’t want to write a long convoluted post.

    I’ve just dumped the feeds from two sites that seem to be nothing but link posting…or (my current seething hate) reproducing their flickr feeds.

  2. flickr … that’s photos ? I can’t take decent photos, so I’ve not bothered. In fact, of all these so called online communities (orkut, flickr, multiply) I haven’t found anything even as interesting as the spam I delete daily from the wp forums :)

    And Gary – card ? :)

  3. Yeah…reposting their flickr feed on their sites!!! I mean ffs, what in the heck is the point?

    Oh the card…got a good one. I quote, “I think you’ve even outdone me on the card front this year”

    :D

    Thank goodness I read it, the first one I picked up just said ‘With love at Christmas’…if I’d bought that I would have been dead ;)

  4. I have used asides and have two views on them. They can be good for when you just want to add a small post or link and do not want all the title/ comments etc just for one small line of text.
    On the other hand, they can be a lazy way of making entries and yes, they are at risk of making a site boring and lacking content.

    Mind you, lacking content on my site is the least of my worries. Please don’t hate me for using them Mark – I do have ‘some’ of my own content too you know :)

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