Writing to be taken out of context
In a world where it’s becoming easier and easier to reshare information in other forums, where it can be a sign of authorial success to have your words reshared and then reshared again, I’ve noticed that the way I think about what I write is gradually changing.
Increasingly, I write with an eye not only to the immediate way my words will be received, but also with an eye to how they might be read, in the event that they are taken and reshared in other places, perhaps stripped of the context from which they were taken.
This effect has been strongest, by far, in my stream of delicious bookmarks. These are automatically shared not just with people who follow my delicious bookmarks, but also on my friendfeed, and on my blog.
Each of these forums has a slightly different tone and constraints. I find myself sometimes thinking “oh, that description won’t quite work on friendfeed”, when I know that it’s just fine on delicious and on my blog. And I sometimes pause to think about how things might read, when taken and put in a context over which I have no control.
None of this is new, of course – people have always quoted both themselves and each other. Still, I can’t help believing that the frequency and ease of doing this has increased so dramatically over the past few years that it must gradually be coming to strongly affect all those who write on the web.