Today I discovered Manuel Moreale’s Blog thanks to this great endorsement by @uncertainquark (which I in turn found thanks to micro.blog’s discovery tab):

I just donated to a personal blog writer I really like. Check out his very human blog, which actually cares about the state of the Internet: manuelmoreale.com 📝

One of the posts there (On discovery and consumption) made me pause when I was thinking about how to react to this beautifully little post by @pimoore:

Who we are is the most eloquent and unique story that we all write every single day.

There is a difference between commenting and quoting a post like this. Since that post was inspiration to a point (this) I wanted to make, I don’t think that a comment would have been appropriate. Looking at the comments other people actually made, they are engaging with the post more directly, by uttering e.g. approval (for example, @patrickrhone’s “Truth”)

There is also a difference in the way I engage with the post when quoting it: The engagement here is very indirect, the other person does not even necessarily notice that I took what they wrote and re-contextualized it for my own needs.

Similarly to Manuel Morale’s point about discovery and consumption, this might be an obvious difference. But I think commenting and quoting also is related to what Manuel has to say about the centralization of discovery and consumption (meaning the engagement with the discovered content):

One major change the web has experienced was the consolidation of discovery and consumption. Digg was—and still is—a place to discover new content but the consumption of that content takes place away outside of Digg. And the same was true for discussions around the content. Those used to happen in comment sections spread across the internet. But now, places like Twitter or Instagram are acting as places for both the discovery and the consumption of new content.

A platform that only allows comments about content linked from elsewhere on the web will not lead to this kind of centralization. A comment-only platform like this is also much less convenient to use to actually build upon other people’s content, which most often happens in the quoting (or linking) style instead the commenting-style of engagement.

Making it easier to quote other people’s content might on the other hand have consequences as regards to how we engage with the creators behind the content. Which brings me to another post of Manuel (The internet is not broken. People are.), which is that social media exposes a lot of people’s interest not in doing the thing for the love of the thing, but for the fame, which might be achieved through it (Something I have always appreciated about @merlinmann: He does the things because he loves doing them).

A commenter is not very likely to become famous through commenting. A quoter on the other hand produces first order content: This post here stands on its own, even though it is inspired by other content. Combined with the strong network effects of the big social media platforms, odds are that the wish for fame becomes more likely to surface - because fame itself is more probable in these conditions.

Therefore offering tools for quoting, for building upon other people’s content, is a double edged sword. If the social media platform is too big and quoting is too easy, there is an increased likelihood of a bloodless hunt for fame, in which first order creators become increasingly invisible to each other.