I’ve never quite liked that Twitter uses @names highlighted within posts. All the additional cruft in Twitter like the “@” and “#” prefixes, while adding useful functionality, have always dramatically decreased the readability and enjoyment of their interface for me. So why not just get rid of them?!
I’m getting a lot out of these ruminations you’re doing about links as notifications. For me, I think I’m going to include a ‘cc’ bit of post metadata, much like I already have ‘via’ metadata, to advertise the original source for a bit of hypertext. Cool idea.
The idea of a ‘bcc’ is even more interesting—it isn’t possible to have secret recipients listed in the HTML. They would need to be encrypted or something. E-mail actually removes the ‘Bcc’ header for recipients. I put this in the same category as encrypted private posts—very tricky to fit into the Indieweb and possibly just wrong for it.
So, I think person-tagging encompasses all of the normal e-mail send actions:
Direct reply. The text is meant for that individual to read. It’s important to show the person-tag, because it is important context.
Cc. The text is relevant to the individual and it’s relevant to show the person-tag to all readers.
Bcc. The text is relevant to the individual, but their connect to it is meant to be private.
And there seem to be other connections beyond these:
Mentions. The individual is a subject of the text. While they might be notified of this, it is more important that readers see the connection.
Unlinked mentions…? What if you had an individual who was the subject of the text, but you didn’t want to notify them? You may want to include an unlinked @boffosocko, to refer to someone without summoning them. But—what if you wanted to link readers to the person without notifying them?
Group syndication. All of the above actions could be used for a group URL (such as IndieNews or Indieweb.xyz) as an alias for a group of individuals. This is similar to a mailing list e-mail address.
It feels like there might be much more than this.
I do see the purpose of these “@” and “#” prefixes—as a type of miniature language for simplifying linking. However, there is no distinction between ‘reply’, ‘cc’ and ‘bcc’ with the “@” prefix. (Micro.blog has a problem—or, at least it did a few months ago—if you send a Webmention to a micro.blog username, it prefixes the post with an @-mention, even if you’re only mentioning them in the post. This is confusing, because the post may not be a direct reply, but it ends up looking like it.)
I do think Indieweb blog software could improve on these by letting you type shortcut prefixes for ‘reply’, ‘cc’, ‘mention’, etc. types of person-tagging—and then turning them into just normal links or post metadata, rather than keeping the prefixes in there. (I think Facebook does this.)