Resurrecting web marginalia

I’ve just spent a few minutes with Stephen Anderson‘s reflections on the Mighty Mind community experiment on Circle (which, as a platform… kinda sucks).

Stephen wondered if the thing he actually wanted didn’t quite exist, and in amongst ideas threw out the term… wait for it…


The description from Wikipedia, if that doesn’t mean much…

“A webring (or web ring) is a collection of websites linked together in a circular structure, and usually organized around a specific theme, often educational or social.[1] They were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, particularly among amateur websites.”

I wonder if it’s too formal and structured for what Stephen’s after? We’ll discuss it I’m sure.

But it made me remember another thing that’s largely disappeared.


A little list on the side of your blog of other blogs you liked.

Thanks to the Wayback Machine, here’s an example from my pre-Smithery blog, Feeding The Puppy (yeah, long story).

Just down at the bottom there, on the right.

Feeding The Puppy, November 2nd, 2010

Maybe this is just one of the kinds of useful, hand-spun web marginalia that was really rather useful in the early days of the web, but was hacked away by a lot of things.

But perhaps mostly by responsive design.

Websites have been wind tunnelled, the edges stripped. The interesting sidebars and columns where once you would wander into new ideas from other minds have fallen far from view.

A crisis of discovery, to quote Robin Sloan again.

I just searched for other perspectives on this, and found a lovely piece by Neville on a similar theme.

I’ll leave you with some of that, in lieu of a blogroll.

(Which I might start trying to build back in to the Smithery site).


“In the current digital landscape, anonymity and the lack of accountability often lead to aggressive and polarising language and behaviour. The demise of blogrolls and the shift towards instant, shallow connections have given way to echo chambers and filter bubbles, further exacerbating the polarisation of opinions.”

“In the face of these challenges, there is a growing desire by many people to return to the thoughtful, respectful discussions that characterized the blogroll era. I believe there is hope that the lessons learned from the past can guide us in rebuilding a digital landscape that encourages civil discourse.”

Neville Hobson