Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Consuming, curating, and creating (or, I see what @garrytan @krynsky and @empoprises did there)

So there are three posts out there, all with the same theme. Let's start with Garry Tan's post from January 2:

My one professional resolution for the year is to actually write more. The written word is the one way we can leave something behind - it’s a signpost for others, in distilled form.

We'll get to that "distilled" part later, which involves the words edited, reduced, and great.

Tan mentions two things that are keeping him from writing more - vulnerability, and (lack of) novelty. These particular writer's blocks are not universal - some people have no problem stating unpleasant truths, and some people don't worry about saying something that may have already been said. (And yes, I'm pointing at myself, even though I know it's rude to point.) But these possible barriers may need to be addressed by writers, along with others.

Which brings us to Mark Krynsky and his post of January 3, appearing both at krynsky.com and on Medium. Krynsky mentions another possible block.

Perfectionism is something that often stops me cold. I’ll review and edit my posts ad nauseum (I even had to Google this to make sure I used it correctly as WordPress flagged it as wrong. God help me.)

I’ll often do lots of research with links and quote pulls from posts and images and embedded videos…and, and, and. In other words I do lots of things that detract from the words and take me forever to complete a post.

Remember those words distilled, edited, reduced, and great? Obviously you need to perform these activities at some level - Krynsky isn't advocating that we just start typing and hit publish after a text explosion - but the key is to strike a balance. For certain topics, timeliness is also important.

Krynsky touched upon other topics in his post, including one reason why there's a move toward self-publishing in the first place. Hint: many people started "blogging" back when Blogger and Wordpress were new, and Facebook was non-existent.

    (From here - fair use - and I won't throw stones, because it looked better than my site at the time)

One of those people was Jason Koebler. He writes about his first steps in self-publishing, from "Jason's Site" (very 2002, yet also very forward-looking) to Xanga to LiveJournal to MySpace. And then, a few weeks before high school graduation, Koebler received his university email account, which meant one thing - HE COULD SET UP A FACEBOOK PROFILE. (Some of you will recall that Facebook was initially limited to universities.)

But what was the difference between Facebook and all of those other platforms - other than the fact that Facebook solved the monetization issue? The other difference was that it was so EASY to post to Facebook - and, as a consequence, to NOT post to MySpace or LiveJournal or Xanga or your version of "Jason's Site."

But if it's easy to post on Facebook, it's even easier to reshare on Facebook (or on other services - remember FriendFeed?). Resharing even has a newfangled word - curation. And hey, everybody's doing it.

But we all know something that's even easier than resharing/curating. And that, of course, is consuming. Sit back, relax, and let the feed entertain you.

And if you let Facebook's defaults determine how you will be entertained, you'll see things like this.

Now you may see different things, if you're not interested in Amazon and Walmart like I am. That's because Facebook solved the monetization issue by taking money from advertisers and serving up ads to make you click, and non-ad content to make you consume, all based upon algorithms and data mining.

Jason's Site was never like this.

But at least on Jason's Site, you were 100% guaranteed to see Jason's content. On Facebook, the algorithms may bury some of the feeds that interest you. For example, I can't remember when I last saw Mark Krynsky's content in my Facebook feed.

Perhaps that's why Jason Koebler is musing about the GOOD features of Jason's Site, and three people have intentionally written posts about writing more. Garry Tan, Mark Krynsky - and one other person.

(That person needs to update some of his online bios, though - he works for IDEMIA today, not MorphoTrak.)
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