Online Communication Manual
Please note any “TODO” or “TK” – that means text around it is incomplete or inaccurate, such as missing a citation.
This document is an explanation of how I try to approach my online communication. The methods explained below have been in implicit development my whole life, but I started explicitly considering how I wanted to conduct my online communication in mid-2018. How I communicate online can be divided up roughly into two categories, though there's always some murkiness between the two.
The reason I don't explicitly allow for in-between communication like “followers-only microblog posts,” is because the control of security on that communication is so low, I would prefer to treat it as public.
License and Editorial Information
This document and the source code it contains are released under the MIT License and maintained at https://git.sr.ht/~emsenn/online-communication-manual, where a list of syndications is available.
Table of Contents
Most of my direct online communication happens through an ever-changing medley of instant messaging platforms defined more by contemporary trends than my opinion.
That is to say, I use whatever messaging applications my friends are using, and try not to be picky about the procedure.
I divide my public communications into two subcategories:
- Posting, which is making a temporary or conversational public post onto a platform. This includes sending messages to my mailing lists and microblogging.
- Publishing, which is more formal: creating a document and releasing it through a platform. This usually means posting to my personal website, but includes syndicating the document elsewhere.
When I want to post something online, I want to send a quick message, usually to an audience of followers, but also usually in a way that anyone could see it. (After all, I can't be sure that by sharing with my followers, I am not unknowingly be syndicated publicly.) Followers are people who have subscribed to the relevant account or stream.
There are a few things that inspire me to post:
- Reading something that I'd like to share my thoughts on.
- Doing work on an interesting project or piece of writing that I'd like to talk about.
The main way I post things is by microblogging: short temporary posts that are syndicated to followers' individual chronological feeds. Specifically, I use an account in the Fediverse to create posts: firstname.lastname@example.org. (You can also view an RSS feed of my profile.
These are a few assumptions I make when microblogging:
- Since my audience chooses to see my posts, I assume they have an interest in the topics I'm posting about.
- Anyone might take anything I've said and use it out-of-context to my detriment.
- Anyone might find a way to say something to me about what I've posted. If they have an account in the Fediverse, this is easy, but people find a way to make themselves heard if they want.
I do not think my microblog should be permanent, since I can't reasonably moderate the posts that will show up in response to mine. In that spirit, I have taken the rather drastic step of deleting my posts that are older than 48 hours, unless I have “favorited” it myself. To accomplish this, I use @codl's Forget.
Into Data Silos
I recognize that a lot of potential and current personal and professional contacts don't have accounts in the Fediverse, don't use RSS, and won't manually check my Mastodon profile.
I maintain accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn, though I have severe ethical criticisms of both. Take it as evidence that my desire to be cooperative outweighs my desire to boycott monopolistic providers.
I don't post into these data silos as often as I post in the Fediverse, and tend to limit my posts there to what would be of interest to a professional audience.
Publishing something online is the most complicated way of communicating online, but also, I think, the most useful. Publishing here means sharing in a way that it becomes a “permanent” part of the Internet.
I explain the specifics of how I write in my Manual of Writing, the specifics of how I edit in my Manual of Editing, and the specifics of how I create a document in my Manual of Publishing. (All of which are in early development too.)
This procedure is about how I share that published document.
The first thing I do is add it to my website, emsenn.net, which is a repository of all my published documents (and drafts).
Then, I write a post about it to the Fediverse, as described in my procedures for posting online.
Finally, I send the document to the relevant list of email contacts I maintain who have expressed interest in its topic.