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.

Remember Your Passions

Some­one con­tact­ed me recent­ly to do a sto­ry about Bring Your A’s Game, my quest to bring the Oak­land Ath­let­ics back to Philadel­phia, and it real­ly sparked my imag­i­na­tion about the cam­paign again. Last sum­mer was great: the A’s came back to town for inter­league; we had fun at Mem­phis Tap­room’s beer gar­den, and we even ral­lied for a Sat­ur­day night game at the ball­park. I had a great time meet­ing peo­ple, young and old, and talk­ing to them about the A’s and base­ball and Philadelphia.

Then things stalled a bit. What do you do next? Sure, these things are long, drawn out affairs, so how do you get peo­ple to pay atten­tion to your sto­ry? The answer, at least for me, is to remem­ber the pas­sion that drove me to it in the first place. I want to con­nect Philadel­phi­a’s rich base­ball his­to­ry to some­thing in the present. I want to get peo­ple excit­ed about a crosstown rival­ry that has­n’t exist­ed in near­ly 60 years. It’s not easy.

What awoke in me as I talked about what moti­vat­ed me to start Bring Your A’s Game was the fun of it. Most­ly when I talk about it, I expect­ed peo­ple to have the kind of reac­tion Gargano did when I talked to him in the sum­mer of ’10, which is to say, com­i­cal­ly neg­a­tive. I’m often stunned when peo­ple agree that Philadel­phia not only could sup­port two ball­clubs, but that it should. Maybe they don’t all like the Bring Your A’s Game page, but it’s a good feel­ing to not be laughed out of the court of pub­lic opin­ion. So I want to do more of it.

I men­tioned last week on the long neglect­ed Bring Your A’s Game blog and now I’m seri­ous. I’d love to find new ways to con­nect to new audi­ences, espe­cial­ly those that aren’t base­ball mad. I want to wage this con­ver­sa­tion with folks who don’t know any­thing about base­ball, but who like provoca­tive, dis­rup­tive ideas. If you know of such a forum, let me know and I’ll pre­pare accordingly.

The only way to tru­ly real­ize your pas­sions is to engage oth­ers who don’t share them and invite them to join you. It’s invig­o­rat­ing and a vital way to keep the cre­ative juices flow­ing. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

Unfollowing Is Hard

One of my dig­i­tal New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions was to “go pro” on Twit­ter. I’m near­ly there and I can tell you it’s not easy. For me it’s meant unfol­low­ing and plug­ging folks into lists or just dis­con­nect­ing alto­geth­er in order to pay atten­tion to things that are, you know, work-relat­ed. In some cas­es it means sev­er­ing ties with old co-work­ers, high school class­mates and vibrant locals in exchange for nation­al and region­al media, cur­rent co-work­ers and influ­encers. It’s a win­dow into their process, some­thing that would­n’t have been pos­si­ble a decade ago, and it’s more impor­tant to my work than ever. Thing is, has this trans­for­ma­tion sucked all the fun out of Twit­ter and Face­book?Con­tin­ue read­ing “Unfol­low­ing Is Hard”

Cleaning Digital House

Hap­py New Year! Make any res­o­lu­tions? One of mine is to stream­line par­tic­i­pa­tion on cer­tain types of social media. In 2012, I don’t want to feel like I’m doing data entry when I’m try­ing out a new app; I want social shar­ing to be fun and open-ended.

I caught this link on The Verge yes­ter­day and took less than two min­utes revok­ing per­mis­sions across my pre­ferred social media plat­forms. Found ser­vices that I maybe used once in 2008 still had access to my info! Crazy, right? 

Part of not feel­ing like a data mule is know­ing what you’re shar­ing and with whom. Folks often think that cut­ting back on join­ing new ser­vices is what mat­ters, but think about all the ser­vices you grant access to your Twit­ter, Face­book and Google accounts. Go look and see for your­self. It’s a lit­tle scary.

Now, I love new toys as much as the next guy, but it’s impor­tant to be mind­ful of those per­mis­sions. I have no idea how many user agree­ments I’ve signed online, but I’m sure it’s too many. Stay on top of those items and you’ll do well to lead a clean­er life online in 2012.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to delet­ing noti­fi­ca­tion emails…

My Two Cents on Blogging

Been think­ing about Hugh MacLeod’s posts on this sub­ject this week since Jere­mi­ah Owyang brought it up here (and fol­lowed up here) and then BOOM here he goes again with anoth­er post about what blog­ging means AND TO WHOM in 2012. Agree com­plete­ly and I’ll add that while I love Google+ and Twit­ter and var­i­ous oth­er net­works, I’m still read­ing blogs with vig­or. And a hearty amen to the con­ver­sa­tion hap­pen­ing in oth­er places than the com­ments. Twit­ter real­ly unleash­es their pow­er, for bet­ter or worse, no?

And let’s be seri­ous: I’m still fol­low­ing links back to blogs from Twit­ter. Not every­thing is being encap­su­lat­ed 140 char­ac­ters at a time. Aren’t you?

A short sto­ry: tweets like this one bear an eerie resem­blance to dis­course in the music blo­gos­phere cir­ca 2006. I’ll add that every­thing went pear-shaped in music blog­ging right around the time folks start­ed to notice that it was­n’t fun any­more and that first was what mat­tered most. It’s what drove me to find some­thing else to do as some of my favorite crit­ics did the very same. Once every­one’s talk­ing about what’s wrong, it starts to hurt the prod­uct. This is why I find folks like Mau­ra and Chris and Daphne to be so inspi­ra­tional: they’re stick­ing it out and still doing great work. If tech blog­gers start to feel that the thrill is gone, I’d rec­om­mend check­ing out how Mau­ra and Chris and Daphne are rein­vent­ing what it means to be a music crit­ic in a Lady Gaga Pants­less in Paris world.

If you’re a tech blog­ger or aspire to be one some­day, reach out to friends and col­leagues who’ve writ­ten about music or food for pay online in the past decade or so. If noth­ing else, they can share more than a few sto­ries about how Web 2.0 trans­formed the way we blog and how that process keeps iter­at­ing to new fields every day.