We are tributaries to the internet river. The river is more than words, but this post is just about the words. I love being a tributary, however minor, pouring my words into deeper and wider channels.
We are also mills set on the river, powered by the flow. Are you seeing this in your feed? Whether delivered to your inbox, or appearing in an RSS reader, or Twitter, or Facebook, or anything that channels information down into your sea. (Always with the mixed metaphors.)
I like how things are malleable now, with many ways to manage collections of words to suit our needs. There is the old web, and the developing mobile web. I like how Instapaper allows you to consume words more pleasurably, letting them run like water to the lowest spot. There’s no need for words to be trapped in the turbulent froth of a polluted web site.
For my own web site, I did away with the sidebar, simplifying, making it as easy as possible for people to get right to the words, and wanting them to flow nicely into any pool, any screen. It’s not that I prefer a small screen for my reading, but I love the ability to be untethered, to regain the freedom I once had with books.
There’s something so pleasing about extracting and consuming just the words. The “content.” The words are out there, and once published, once poured out, they join the river. I want to decide how to divert those words. I’m thrilled at having the freedom to consume them in more pleasurable ways and settings. I’m just looking for words that sound true. I don’t want a weed-choked river.
But, people want their control, don’t they? Access to water has always been a powerful thing. They will try to limit how you can enjoy the river, by holding back the full feed, by breaking things up into multiple pages, with no print or single page view, or locking up the words in a reservoir surrounded by a paywall. They dam up their stream while the river runs faster past them.
Let your words flow freely into the river.
How will we pay for all this water, you ask? Water is priceless, but we’ll find a way to manage this resource, and support each other in sustainable ways. There are already some new ways, and we’ll find more.
The river will run.