As usual I’m not willing to leave well enough alone. My favorite blog as of late has been chartreuse(beta), as I kept reading and enjoying, I kept wondering what made it so good. Yeah, he’s got style, smarts and great links/videos, but beyond the content, the form fascinates me. It’s just different than what you run across elsewhere, and after much though I think I’ve identified a few reasons why.
1. Hyperlinkology: At least that’s what I called it. Basically, it’s using links as a way to add to annotate the content. So many people (including me), link to things by saying “I just read on so-and-so website” . . . Chartreuse just talks and lets you explore the links for yourself. As usual, someone else has explained this better than I. In Interface Culture, Steven Johnson describes Suck.com linking style:
Whereas every other Web site conceived hypertext as a way of augmenting the reading experience, Suck saw it as an opportunity to withhold information, to keep the reader at bay. Even the sophisticated Web auteurs offered up their links the way a waiter offers up fresh-ground pepper: as a supplement to the main course, a spice. (Want more? Just click here.)
As should be evidenced by this post with it’s boring links, actually pulling this off well is incredibly difficult. It requires “abandoning language conventions and embracing some of the power of this new medium.” When you do it right, though, you create an atmosphere where readers want to click on everything.
2. Characters: Beyond just Chartreuse himself, you’ve got site security and a wealth advisor. They all add to the experience of the site as something more than a blog: You’re reading episodes, not entries. I find myself reading the comments to see what’s going to happen next. Who is site security going to go after this week? It’s an adventure, not a blog.
I write all this as a recognition of innovation. chartreuse (BETA) is interesting because it abandons many blogging conventions. As with most new media, it takes a while for people to get comfortable enough to experiment. It gives me a glimmer of hope that at some point in the future we’ll be talking to more than just us geeks.
As a side note, part of what makes the site great is he’s not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in. He’s decided to put up $1,000 of his own money to send two people to New Orleans to document what’s going on.