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.