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.

The Philadelphia Phillies: End of An Era

The last two sea­sons have been tough in Philadel­phia. After a glo­ri­ous run as one of the best team’s in base­ball, the Phillies crashed back to Earth. Char­lie Manuel, a beloved fig­ure for any­one who’s fol­lowed the Phils, was tossed aside. Roy Hal­la­day, a player who more than any­one made Philadel­phia a des­ti­na­tion for free agents, retired after two injury-riddled sea­sons. It was a mag­i­cal time and now it is over.

The next phase is a famil­iar one. The Phillies will likely be hard to watch for a long time. With com­mit­ments made to an aging core and lit­tle to no tal­ent in the farm sys­tem, the boom has gone bust. For any­one who remem­bers what hap­pened to the team after 1993, we know what hap­pens next. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll still be in the stands, bask­ing in the ball­park, thank­ful for the mem­o­ries the Phillies gave us.

No Goal But Mileage

It’s been a while since I called myself a run­ner. After run­ning con­sec­u­tive marathons in ’08 and ’09, I took a long hia­tus. Turns out being awake all hours with a sleep­less infant isn’t con­ducive to dis­tance run­ning. I tried com­ing back in clas­sic couch-to-marathon style last year, only to injure myself about halfway through train­ing. After months of phys­i­cal ther­apy, I still didn’t feel quite right, but that didn’t stop me from try­ing again this year, only to meet the same end. It’s been frus­trat­ing since I still want to run that Boston qual­i­fier I just missed in freez­ing temps in ’08.
A few weeks ago I started run­ning again. Just three miles, five times a week. No goal but mileage. It’s tak­ing me back to a time before I had a Garmin watch, before I micro­man­aged every step I took on a run. I’m just out there in the cool fall air putting one foot in front of the other. I’m feel­ing bet­ter than I have in years. Turns out run­ning with­out a race in sight is help­ing me build the base I need to get back on track.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I signed up for a half marathon at the end of March. I couldn’t help myself. I need a rea­son to stay moti­vated dur­ing these long, dark win­ter months run­ning along­side the Cooper River. In the mean­time, I’ll be log­ging miles at a snail’s pace until I feel good enough to push toward my real goal of qual­i­fy­ing for Boston.

What’s the Future of Blogging?

Two inter­est­ing things about blog­ging lately:

First from Marco Arment

Then from Robert Scoble on why he’s using G+ and Face­book for blog­ging.

I tend to agree with the for­mer, but I’d much rather do what Scoble is doing. Why? Because it’s much lighter weight than com­ing here to write AND it doesn’t have the audi­ence built-in that other social net­works do. I see that Share but­ton when I’m in Gmail and think, “That would be so easy!”

What’s keep­ing me from mak­ing the switch? Audi­ence. Sure, I have never been good about writ­ing every day, but Word­Press makes it easy for peo­ple to find stuff I’ve writ­ten about since I started blog­ging. Google+ is get­ting bet­ter at help­ing peo­ple find me in the con­text of other search results, but it’s not quite the same.

But why not LinkedIn? Tum­blr? Medium? They’re all inter­est­ing places. I often think I should use LinkedIn as my default social net­work and share out to Twit­ter from it!

Put another way: why shouldn’t I switch to G+ or Medium, you know, beyond own­ing my platform?

To me, the long tail ben­e­fits are worth­while. Word­Press is eas­ily book­marked and shared. Google+ is a neat lit­tle ecosys­tem, but that’s just it: it wants to be self-contained in a dif­fer­ent way that most other networks.

The Principled Purge

If you haven’t already seen it, Ian Rogers’ blog post on prun­ing Twit­ter is quite good. He fol­lowed me back when I wrote about dig­i­tal music; I don’t write about that any­more, ergo he unfol­lowed me. It makes all the sense in the world. Why is it so hard?

I wrote Unfol­low­ing Is Hard back in 2012. I pared back to 500 peo­ple. It felt like an accom­plish­ment. Could I ever get under 200 like Ian? Doubt­ful. Even if I fol­lowed his lead and turned Twit­ter into real-time RSS, I’d find myself in the same fix. I pulled over 800 blogs into RSS at my peak! I’m a sucker for infor­ma­tion. I just can’t help it.

Worse, I’m sen­ti­men­tal. There are peo­ple I’ve been fol­low­ing since I joined. We’ve had lots of laughs. They’ve watched my son grow up. How could I leave them now if they’ve not grad­u­ated to Face­book friend status?

That’s what I like most about Ian’s post: clearly delin­eated friend pro­files that iden­tify where they should go. His birth­day rule is the best. He trans­formed Face­book into Path. He just unfriended his way to it!

I call it the prin­ci­pled purge. This isn’t just rip it up and start again; these are mal­leable plat­forms and we should evolve as our use cases change. And if you get scared you can always cheat with a handy list!