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.

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.

Why I Switched to Poster

You may have noticed some changes here recent­ly. Here’s a hint: fresh con­tent! Want to know my secret? The Poster app! Now I know we’ve all heard that the iPad is not a con­tent-cre­ation device, but I’m find­ing it pret­ty easy myself. In fact, I haven’t reopened my Mac­Book once, not even to change my blog theme!

Why do I like it so much? It does­n’t try to do any­thing more than allow you to draft, sched­ule and pub­lish con­tent. I don’t need a read­er baked into the app, or to see stats on my per­son­al blog. I just want to dive in and bang out 250–500 words about some­thing I liked enough to write about. Like Poster! If you want to start using your iPad for blog­ging, you should check it out.

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?

Readers Crave Destinations

Last Decem­ber I offered my two cents on what’s hap­pen­ing with blog­ging in response to Jere­mi­ah Owyang’s provoca­tive post that pro­nounced the gold­en era of tech blog­ging dead. Now, I’m not sure how peo­ple feel about that a few months on, but some­thing that’s stuck with me is how we gath­er infor­ma­tion online today. Sure, we’re hav­ing lots of “con­ver­sa­tions,” but read­ers still crave des­ti­na­tions.

Good writ­ers know that in order to get any­one to look at any­thing online, you need a hook. When we share links on Twit­ter and Face­book, they’re only inter­est­ing if you can tease peo­ple to click into the sto­ry. We’re all writ­ing head­lines for every­thing we share with the online com­mu­ni­ty. To me that means we still need blogs, websites…anywhere you can put lots of words and ideas next to each oth­er.

We like info snack­ing, but we’re real­ly picky eaters. Giv­en the amount of infor­ma­tion that’s out there it’s only fair that read­ers only sam­ple what they like at the con­tent buf­fet. But make no mis­take, cura­tion takes more than the almighty “con­ver­sa­tion.” So, writ­ers, don’t despair: read­ers still crave the yum­my con­tent that’s always made the web great.