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.
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.
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 deadÂ 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. Â 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.
- 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.
- The notion that “if news is important, it’ll find me” is true only if you hope to cement your solipsism.
In many respects. theÂ 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.
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,Â A Tale of Two Twitter PersonasÂ will. MG Siegler writes:
For me, given myÂ backgroundÂ andÂ line of work,Â thatâ€™s obviously technology. But I too have other interests â€” shocking, I know. Film isÂ definitely one. Beer isÂ 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?
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.