About superfluous blog elements

2020-01-18 @Blog

From the commencement of this blog I’ve refrained from supplementing content with illustrations, save for very sparse occasions. I do so not out of hard principle, having never reached definitive conclusive thought on the matter. Rather, I prefer that words fully illustrate the underlying concept.

They certainly perform the deed in books. Rarely is there a visual that words could not adequately capture to profound detail.

You need but read classic literature to gather the extent to which authors elaborate on not only the outer setup, but the miniscule functioning of peculiar and complex interactions. Virtually never is there a need to appeal to visuals.

Tolstoy relates military campaign strategies at great depth without supplementary artwork. Melville dedicates a respectable portion of Moby Dick to a nearly encyclopedic treatise of waling, wale anatomy, ship construction, and marine study, all without visuals.

Edgar Allan Poe, in his detective stories, goes to painstaking length to render crime scene detail from varying perspectives and accounts, never appealing to so much as hand sketch. Dickens sufficiently paints the decadence of bleak London using mere descriptive language.

Maybe the traditional blog format is designed to grab the attention of a different audience; the audience of flashy headlines, of predetermined passages of importance, of visceral photography, of social media feeds, of selfies, of magazine articles, of landing pages, of rich HTML, of cheap pulp stories.

Perhaps even statistics indicate a severe advantage in content acquisition among the publications adhering to the guidelines of the ‘easily digestible’.

All of that has certain merit. To date, I likely violate every heuristic for successful blog spreading.

Between the legacy design, the antique courier fonts, reserved cross-postings, sparse tagging, absence of social media integration, and naturally, the lack of supplementary illustrations, I would appear to follow the road to invisibility.

But I place emphasis on the prose. I prefer to share concepts, discoveries, strategies, ruminations, in a self-sufficient, revelatory manner that appeals to nothing but words, and presupposes no limits on the cognitive faculty of the reader.

I prefer to write in the manner congruent with how I prefer to read (or be addressed in writing): insight and language at full disposal. Words should speak for themselves.

Now, one must admire this staple of common wisdom: a picture speaks one thousand words. There seems an inexhaustible supply of similar aphorisms. Something about this one, however, raises an eyebrow.

Does a picture speak one thousand words if no observer is around to grant them life? Insofar as the implication, why is a picture preferable to a thousand words?

Perhaps the time I invest in the thousand words render a greater benefit to mental health amortized across the lifetime? Earnestly speaking, do you derive lasting value in something immediately and effortlessly consumable, contrary to an endeavor requiring certain effort?

It may appear extreme, but I err on the consideration of mostly everything beyond text as quiet superfluous and likely distracting. I tend to evade such elements on the web.

Having spent an intimate year and a half with the W3M terminal based web browser, I’ve leveraged great opportunity to contrast just how overinflated most web design appears, resolved to lure you not by virtue of meaningful content, but by way of flashy promotions, links, and ‘rich’ design. That is, I calculate a severely high meta-content to content ratio.

W3M fortunately does much to liberate the field of vision. It eliminates images and rich elements, leaving mostly the text, links, and minimal tabular formatting, all uniformly rendered for the terminal.

Even the navigational aids tend to disappear from view, W3M notoriously inapt at positioning them in accordance to the intended design. The meta-content naturally evaporates. And incredibly cleansing does it feel to browse text in the older ways of the Bulletin Board System (BBS) epoch of the 90s.

That’s largely how I styled this blog, only that I don’t expect that a visitor makes effort to evade the meta-content. I simply avoid it from the ground up.

Furthermore, the increasingly complex HTML >4.0 web design, consumed as intended, has raised high demand on solid, fast internet connectivity. Most designers and consumers take this for granted.

And yet, as a vagabond, beset by precarious connectivity at every moment, I find myself unable to load these polluted web pages until a notable delay that tends to eradicate much of the prior curiosity.

Some of these pages that completely resort to rich JavaScript for proper functioning, I abandon altogether. And oftentimes there is nothing inherent to the content that demands the complex architecture. It merely stems from lack of consideration for backwards compatibility.

An impressive portion of the web, beyond the images and pesky advertising, still constitutes plain text!

Lately I’ve taken yet another cleansing measure, eliminating the YouTube subscriptions.

The official site/application makes it nearly impossible to track the newly published content of genuine interest without the bombardment of the irrelevant (or the degenerate). It’s a beastly attention predator.

As means to combat, I’ve added RSS subscriptions to the respective YouTube channels in newsboat, a feed reader for text terminals. It then follows to merely open the desired video directly, without that initial front-page fiasco.

For any interested party wishing to establish the RSS feed URL for the respective YouTube channel, you need but view the page source and search for the following meta header:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" 

To conclude, I have a burning desire for content to be simple and divorced from the superfluous. I’m not necessarily opposed to illustrations when they contribute in a unique way. I’m not even against meta-content that enables a publication to spread, but only when maintained within reason. Regretfully, much of what I find today goes far beyond, catering to the impatient and desensitized modern content consumer.

Questions, comments? Connect.