Anil Dash on Streams and Pages

I for­got that the stream ver­sus page debate start­ed over a year ago. Here’s Anil Dash’s roundup.

As Choire notes, this real­ly only works if you ditch own­ing your con­tent. There was an inter­est­ing debate on that last sum­mer. Mar­co Arment argued against Medi­um, while Scoble more or less stopped blog­ging.

I think this takes us back to Madri­gal on the stream. We’re liv­ing in a media envi­ron­ment where live­blog­ging is the norm. We want to fol­low break­ing news in real time and we want to watch heat­ed debates unfold on Twit­ter from the social side­lines. But if we care enough, we want to read analy­sis, too.

Madrigal’s point on FOMO is crit­i­cal here. There are com­mu­ni­ties on the web that want to be in on every­thing as it hap­pens. That doesn’t work because under­stand­ing doesn’t scale. This may explain why jour­nal­ists TL;DR their own stuff in social. The chal­lenge isn’t a ques­tion of for­mat but rel­e­vance and the lat­ter is chal­lenged by the for­mer.

We need to be bet­ter edi­tors in every sense. We need to iden­ti­fy what’s impor­tant and nec­es­sary. We can’t dip our toe into the stream and learn by osmo­sis.


The Golden Age of Content Strategy

A few notes and links on the death of the blog, peak stream and the gold­en age of con­tent strat­e­gy. Please join the con­ver­sa­tion and share links in the com­ments.

  • First, Kot­tke at Nie­man Jour­nal­ism Lab. I don’t think the stream killed the blog. I don’t even think firsties killed the blog. What killed blogs for me was that once they matured as a medi­um, they were indis­tin­guish­able from the media they pur­port­ed­ly replaced. I observed this among my fel­low music crit­ics, many of whom advanced from writ­ing about music on their per­son­al blogs to jobs at media out­lets where they took over dig­i­tal respon­si­bil­i­ties at those media prop­er­ties. I wrote about that phe­nom­e­non here. I don’t think it means the medi­um died; it’s that the pageview-dri­ven busi­ness mod­el and the edi­to­r­i­al aspi­ra­tions are out of sync.
  • This brings me to Alex­is Madrigal’s piece on the impor­tance of “now­ness” to the stream. We’re rac­ing faster down the infor­ma­tion super­high­way than ever before and we’re toss­ing all of our sou­venirs into Pock­et, Instapa­per and Ever­note as we go. What Madri­gal gets absolute­ly right is how a fear of miss­ing out pow­ers the ambi­tion to read every­thing exhaus­tive­ly. This is cer­tain­ly true among cer­tain dis­cur­sive cir­cles on the web. When I hit eject on music crit­i­cism, it was mere cul­tur­al moments before Odd Future hit. To this day, I have not heard Odd Future. This is not me say­ing, “I don’t even own a TV;” this is me say­ing that my life con­tin­ued with­out this infor­ma­tion. What Madri­gal longs for is the Inter­net of the past. He’s under­es­ti­mat­ing the Inter­net of the present.
  • Read­ers still crave des­ti­na­tions. Maybe the fetishiza­tion of the lon­gread goes too far, since we’re prob­a­bly just squir­rel­ing those arti­cles away for a day that nev­er comes, but peo­ple still want to land some­where, at least for now. What Kot­tke and Madrigal’s pieces sug­gest to me is ush­er­ing in a gold­en age of con­tent strat­e­gy. Con­tent strat­e­gy was invent­ed to improve busi­ness web­sites, but I’ve seen it applied for edi­to­r­i­al, too. Dead­spin, among oth­er places, does a great job repub­lish­ing sto­ries and giv­ing them new life, often decades lat­er. I think that’s what Madri­gal wants from the web. That Inter­net is there if you want it.

Atten­tion still mat­ters most. The best way to over­come FOMO online is let­ting your friends tell you about sto­ries. You don’t need to have a “take” hol­stered for every top­ic out there. Your time and atten­tion are still very valu­able pos­ses­sions. Cher­ish them.


Overlooked Culture

Maybe I’m fol­low­ing the wrong peo­ple on social media, but has the word “over­looked” lost all mean­ing as it per­tains to cul­ture? It seems to me that when we’re still print­ing spoil­er alerts for ten-year-old TV shows that “over­looked” has lost all explana­to­ry pow­er. Now when I see that word in a review, I roll my eyes. Chances are the reviews are just as over­looked as the cul­ture they describe, if not more­so.

Sure, with­in your niche the new records from Vam­pire Week­end or the Nation­al may be on everyone’s lips, but it’s a safe bet that the word of mouth out­paces actu­al con­sump­tion of that par­tic­u­lar cul­tur­al arti­fact. You may per­ceive that those records have gone main­stream, but the real­i­ty is your neigh­bor has nev­er heard either band.

There’s def­i­nite­ly a bright side to this; with this shift, it appears to me at least that snob­bery los­es in the bar­gain. The on demand nature of cul­ture now enables any­one curi­ous enough to book­mark those things men­tal­ly and nar­rows the gap between the expert and the novice. More­over, we’ve done away with the cul­tur­al mono­liths that once dom­i­nat­ed the pop cul­tur­al land­scape that allow us to gath­er around real and imag­ined water cool­ers for dis­cus­sion and debate.

But how do crit­ics describe this shift as the pace of cul­tur­al cre­ation plows under what came before? Blink and you could miss the next cul­tur­al epicy­cle. Has cul­ture been mar­gin­al­ized or per­son­al­ized? Can any­thing be described as ephemer­al, or were we just always talk­ing to our­selves, the myth of mono­cul­ture just anoth­er imag­ined com­mu­ni­ty peo­pled exclu­sive­ly by elites?


Saying Goodbye to Port Fishington

When Helen and I first set­tled in Port Fish­ing­ton six years ago, we thought we’d made a bad deci­sion. We’d moved from a vibrant, bustling street in Pennsport to a des­o­late block above York Street. We found lots of vacant hous­es and even less to eat. It wasn’t scary; the neigh­bors were friend­ly and wel­com­ing. They plant­ed the tree in front of our house for a few bucks and a case of beer! But we still felt like we’d left the place we loved for a place we could afford. That feel­ing of buyer’s remorse was hard to ignore.

Now that we’re get­ting ready to say good­bye to Philadel­phia, we know we made the right choice mov­ing here. This neigh­bor­hood flour­ished since we moved here, with fan­tas­tic new restau­rants to go along with the music scene. We’ve been spoiled by hav­ing Greens­grow Farm around the cor­ner. If you’d told me then that Stephen Starr would have not one, but two restau­rants here, I would’ve laughed in your face. And then it hap­pened. Heck, I intro­duced the #toomany­gas­trop­ubs hash­tag as a tongue-in-cheek com­plaint about our restau­rant boun­ty.

We loved it so much, we start­ed a fam­i­ly here. Char­lie loves it, too! We’ve played count­less games on the side­walk in front of our house, say­ing hel­lo to every­one who smiles at him as they pass. We made Mem­phis Tap­room our liv­ing room away from home. We con­vinced our friends to move here, too! We’ve made great mem­o­ries here. Port Fishington’s been good to us. We’re going to miss this place when we go.


Renewing My iPhone Vows

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve had an iPhone for near­ly 5 years. I’ve late­ly noticed more of my friends are switch­ing to Android, and I’ve read a num­ber of arti­cles about blog­gers cut­ting ties with Apple. Would I join them in 2013? Could I break free from famil­iar iOS apps and move to Android?

Turns out I won’t be mak­ing the switch. I’d dialed in on the Droid DNA. I’ve been research­ing it for weeks, watch­ing YouTube videos, read­ing reviews and talk­ing to friends who’ve been try­ing to get me to move to Android for a while. I was con­vinced this was the phone for me. More­over, I’ve recom­mit­ted to Google on iOS in a big way. Throw in Google Now and I was sure I’d switch.

And yet I won’t. Why?

I had no idea how much I’d grown to love the iPhone form fac­tor. I’ve seen the “feels good in the hand” meme, but there’s some­thing to it. I just couldn’t switch to some­thing that felt like a less­er prod­uct, know­ing full well the specs are off the chart.

Instead I’m choos­ing to stick with the iPhone when I upgrade and switch to Ver­i­zon. With that in mind, what are the apps you can’t live with­out? I’m com­mit­ting to Ever­note, blog­ging with Poster (it’s great!), lov­ing YouTube and I can’t say enough good things about Zee­box, a great app Com­cast invest­ed in last year. Rec­om­mend your favorites and sug­gest good blogs, Twit­ter accounts, YouTube chan­nels and pod­casts that you fol­low to stay up with the lat­est and great­est.


The Realtime Gratification Gap

I wrote my last post about a per­son­al con­tent strat­e­gy months ago. I don’t even know how many times I’ve tweet­ed over that time. Giz­mo­do asked its read­ers if they still main­tain per­son­al blogs, acknowl­edg­ing all the ways oth­er ser­vices have filled the space blogs once monop­o­lized. It’s a ques­tion that fills me with dread.

I mourn the loss of a vibrant per­son­al blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty, but then again, every­one I used to fol­low got jobs blog­ging. And while I find real­time com­mu­ni­ca­tion fun, there’s a grat­i­fi­ca­tion gap between tweet­ing and long­form per­son­al writ­ing for me. I find writ­ing to be a cathar­tic expe­ri­ence and I used to draw inspi­ra­tion from my favorite blog­gers that drove me to write in a way that was dif­fer­ent than read­ing the news­pa­per or a mag­a­zine. I bet I’m not alone in that, but most of my peers quit their per­son­al blogs, too.

When I say grat­i­fi­ca­tion gap, I’m talk­ing about how blog com­ments showed more appre­ci­a­tion for the work than a fave or retweet. Grant­ed, reach has explod­ed with those real­time social expe­ri­ences, but it’s also divorced the work from painstak­ing­ly build­ing an audi­ence that looks for­ward to a piece of writ­ing. I used to be so encour­aged by those expe­ri­ences. In fact, I still find myself thank­ing friends who take the time to write. I miss root­ing for my writ­ing friends as much as I miss them root­ing for me.

Do you still write your per­son­al blog? Where do you draw inspi­ra­tion? If not, do you miss blog­ging, or is this just nos­tal­gia for, um, 2003?