Where’s the beef?

I know I toot my own horn all the time on this but look at my website. It is pretty much nothing but content. Why is that? Well I figure it is the reason my readers even care to be here in the first place. Therefore, why give the reader anything else? I believe online publishing should, at it’s heart, be about the content. You are visiting to hear what the writer has to say about a given topic. You are seeking to be informed and enlightened, or sometimes even enraged by a particular point of view.

This brings me to todays thought: If I were a visitor from another planet, and had no idea what a weblog or “blog” is, or even online publishing in general, would I be able to tell by looking at one? For most, I am afraid, the answer is “no”. Here is what most online publishing seems, to me, to be about just by looks alone:

* Advertising.
* Selling eBooks.
* Affiliate linking.
* Page views.
* Your Twitter feed.

Do you notice what is missing from that list? Where is the content? How do I separate it from the rest of the noise that is going on? How to I get straight to the reason I came to the site – what the writer has to say? To borrow one of the most famous pop culture advertising lines of all time, where’s the beef?

Let me tell you how I am going to do it (since most out there will not likely do it for me):

Instapaper – This is where I stack up longer posts that I may not have the time to read now but want to read later. It is especially useful for, and originally designed for, formatting this reading list of long blog posts and articles for the iPhone. Of it’s many wonderful features, the one I love, love, love, is that it can take almost any page and strip it down to just the content. Just text on white background. No ads. No comments. No Twitter feed.

Readability – Is new and experimental but, man, it has captured my heart like few other new things do. It basically allows you to create a configurable bookmarklet that, when clicked, strips away the clutter (see bulleted list above) and gives you just the content. It works so well that, the first time I used it, I nearly cried at the sheer beauty of the new page that appeared before me. It was as if someone came and redesigned the web just for me.

The bottom line is this. Load your page up with everything in the bulleted list above. I don’t care. People just like me are building the tools to get the web the way we want, with nothing but the content. Besides, if that does not work we can always execute the “nuclear option” – not reading what you have to say.

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