Categories
Doing

How to Reboot Your Personal Blog

Why don’t I take my own advice? I should’ve nev­er stopped writ­ing in the first place. Why don’t I take Anil Dash’s advice? He’s right!

Well, here I am, back at Ram­say­ings, won­der­ing where anoth­er year went. I con­stant­ly miss writ­ing and yet nev­er seem to find the words to say or the time to type them. It’s sil­ly, real­ly. The onus­es of per­son­al brand­ing and thought lead­er­ship can real­ly do a num­ber on you if you let them, which is maybe what hap­pened, but who can say. In any case, I’m back!

I may not have been writ­ing, but I have been tak­ing notes. I have thoughts on where my musi­cal taste evolved this year as I real­ly learned to embrace the new class of jam bands sweep­ing indie. I embraced my Mid­west­er­ness and drove the kids from Detroit to Flori­da in my first ever hon­est to god road­trip. I have some reflec­tions on my career jour­ney, too.

The trick now is to map those out in a steady diet. One a day. We’ll see if I can main­tain it for a week, then a month and so on. I know per­son­al blogs have died and yet so many of us who were there at the dawn of per­son­al blog­ging yearn for their return. I’ll try to keep up my end of the bar­gain this time.

Categories
Thinking

#PublishADraft

Here’s a lit­tle secret to kick­start your per­son­al blog: pub­lish a draft. Sure­ly, you’ve been ago­niz­ing over some post for ages. It’s right there in Drafts. Pick one, clean it up a bit and pub­lish.

In fact, I pub­lished one last week. It was there the whole time!

 Stop being such a per­fec­tion­ist. Let Twit­ter be your chan­nel for #hot­takes. Let the world know you can be thought­ful again and #Pub­lishADraft. If you do, you’ll feel amaz­ing. Promise. 

Use the hash­tag #Pub­lishADraft and let’s see if we can’t reboot a per­son­al blog or two.

Categories
Thinking

Fixing a Hole in the Social Web

Last sum­mer, my friend Karl Mar­ti­no shared this post from Scott Rosen­berg on Face­book some time ago and I got a lit­tle excit­ed. Could blog­ging real­ly be back? I’ve writ­ten about the death of music blogs and Jere­mi­ah declared the gold­en age of tech blog­ging dead back in 2011. What Rosen­berg hit on in his fol­low up — the migra­to­ry pat­terns of the “hive mind” — made me think less about plat­forms and more about the sin­gu­lar tool that enabled blogs to real­ly become pop­u­lar: RSS.

Google Read­er rode off into the sun­set back in 2013. Noth­ing real­ly replaced it, despite a race to rebuild it. Before any­one declares blog­ging’s back, let’s be hon­est with our­selves: RSS made the blog­gy core of the web pos­si­ble. Right now, I have a bunch of tabs open and I’m click­ing through to addi­tion­al posts and form­ing thoughts and respons­es. This was only pos­si­ble using “read it lat­er” tools.  In the blog­gy hey­day, I would sub­scribe to count­less blogs and refresh Google Read­er end­less­ly to keep up as they col­lect­ed through­out the day. You’d think I was describ­ing Twit­ter or Tum­blr or Face­book, but these leaky net­works are sieves com­pared to the net RSS pro­vid­ed.

Two reflec­tions:

  1. the social web cre­at­ed the sense of FOMO that keeps us refresh­ing feeds cease­less­ly so we make sure we don’t miss a thing. It’s impos­si­ble to be a part of the dia­logue if you miss it com­plete­ly.
  2. The notion that “if news is impor­tant, it’ll find me” is true only if you hope to cement your solip­sism.

In many respects. the social web has evolved into the online equiv­a­lent of Jacques Lacan and Judith But­ler cor­re­spond­ing in pub­lic via aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nals. We can all read the arti­cles, but they’re not real­ly talk­ing to “us.” Sure, the social web enables us to par­tic­i­pate, but that par­tic­i­pa­tion too often feels like tweet­ing at celebri­ties, in the hopes of the odd fave or retweet.

I’m not sure any­thing can be done about that last bit. Part of the prob­lem of say­ing “blog­ging is back” in any mean­ing­ful way ignores how the scope and veloc­i­ty of infor­ma­tion online with­out new ways to cap­ture a dai­ly digest of what hap­pened. Remem­ber when you’d check Google Read­er and it would be loaded with updates from every blog you fol­lowed that reflect­ed the lat­est press release hit­ting the wire? Now the social web is the same echo cham­ber that rever­ber­ates to reach every time zone online. What’s miss­ing from the social web today — and what made blog­ging in the ear­ly days so great — was that peri­od where it felt like you “knew” “every­one” online. To bor­row from Bene­dict Ander­son, we can’t recap­ture those “imag­ined com­mu­ni­ties” that cre­at­ed a sense of inti­ma­cy and shared under­stand­ing on the web.

The clos­est I’ve seen any­one come to acknowl­edg­ing this gap is ThinkUp, which takes stock of your activ­i­ty in the social web. But quan­ti­fy­ing activ­i­ty isn’t the same as chang­ing behav­ior. Bene­dict Evans tweet­stormed about “dis­cov­ery” and I think it sums things up nice­ly as it relates to how con­ver­sa­tion has evolved online. I’ll end here.

 

Categories
Thinking

How to Use Twitter Like a Human Being

I love Twit­ter. It’s my favorite social net­work. I start­ed using it in 2008 when I went to SXSW Music. I imme­di­ate­ly saw its val­ue for cov­er­ing live events. That fall, I used it exten­sive­ly dur­ing the Phillies’ post­sea­son cam­paign. Twit­ter is a great plat­form for your pas­sions. Except when it isn’t.

Some­where along the way, Twit­ter changed. My friend Mark cap­tured one key dif­fer­ence in his tweet below.

For all the talk about being authen­tic and engag­ing on social, you’ll often find that the most fol­lowed accounts are noth­ing more than linkbots with a human face. It’s a head-scratch­er. At a time when peo­ple com­plain of infor­ma­tion over­load, hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple will fol­low accounts that recy­cle memes and oth­er online flot­sam.

If that does­n’t depress you, A Tale of Two Twit­ter Per­sonas will. MG Siegler writes:

For me, giv­en my back­ground and line of work, that’s obvi­ous­ly tech­nol­o­gy. But I too have oth­er inter­ests — shock­ing, I know. Film is def­i­nite­ly one. Beer is def­i­nite­ly anoth­er. And sports is way up there. Yes, some peo­ple in the tech indus­try are as obsessed with sports as any­one else in the world. Blas­phe­my!

What does per­son­al brand­ing mean when the most pop­u­lar social media accounts lack per­son­al­i­ty?

Categories
Thinking

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.