I often have a lot to say on a variety of subjects and I just as often don’t say anything at all. I could blame a number of factors—my day job, my family responsibilities, my blogging platform, etc.—but those wouldn’t get to the root of the issue. Instead, I’ll come clean that I can be lazy when it comes to actually putting down my thoughts and opinions in writing. In fact, I recently changed blogging platforms with the sole hope that it would decrease barriers to entry for my writing endeavors. It was right around this time that Medium got a rebranding and a metric ton of media attention and a few big names started trying out cross-posting between their personal blog and the shiny new service. One of those interested in trying this out was Joe Caiati.
Joe and I have a lot in common. We both have histories with Apple, blogging, Tumblr, etc., so I often read his work with an eye for what I could be doing to improve my work and writing frequency. I also agree with him on a number of issues, so I enjoy reading his commentaries. He and I had a quick interaction on Twitter about Medium’s new coat of paint, where I was interested to see the outcome of his idea to crosspost.1 Thankfully, Joe is thinking better of the cross-posting idea after listening to an excellent episode of the Accidental Tech Podcast. Personally, I have had a bad feeling about Medium since Marco Arment likened it to writing for a magazine for free and holding no rights to the content after the fact.
Joe’s decision to look into the Medium platform became much more clear to me when he wrote “Don’t Be Daring Fireball”, a well- though-out discussion of the blogging medium and its pitfalls, especially where emulation of Daring Fireball is concerned. Joe argues that people attempting to build an audience should not dive-in assuming they have the audience trust that John Gruber has worked tirelessly to build; this part, I agree with. Instead, everyone trying to build such a blogging presence should write as if their lives depended on it and only write, not getting bogged down by links and simple commentaries. Ironically, I have a lot of link posts on this site and this post was almost another one.
Instead of a link post however, Joe got me thinking and therefore got me writing. 2 I’ve been giving this a lot of thought since he wrote the article and I can’t say I agree with everything Joe discusses in the post—especially his suggested use of Twitter, which I discuss below. Of course, my well-documented motivations for making my site create an apples-to-oranges type of situation when discussing what one should and shouldn’t do when starting a writing career. This blog started on Tumblr, a platform that is very obviously meant for exactly what Joe suggests people not do. I moved away from Tumblr because—as discussed above with Medium—I was concerned about my “ownership” of my material. Joe’s blog is still hosted on Tumblr and that’s fine because it has no bearing on the subject material or type of content shared. However, as I am sure Joe would agree, we got into the business of blogging because of platforms like Tumblr that made it easy to share not only long-form thoughts but also the occasional video, image, etc. In addition, we have matured as bloggers in our understanding that the quest for timeless written material is of more value to our creative brands than posting frequent and funny, yet ultimately ephemeral YouTube videos.
I would never attempt to downplay the amount of work that John Gruber put into what amounts to the creation of blogging as we know it today and, frankly, he makes the living he does because of his hard work. That being said, John Gruber shares links on Twitter just like the rest of us; the items that he shares on Daring Fireball are the ones that make the cut for his blog’s audience, not his Twitter audience. I share links all the time through Twitter, but the way I see it, Twitter is a different medium, one on which sharing links is second nature. But in-depth commentary—the type that John does on occasion with the links he shares on Daring Fireball—is not what Twitter is meant for. To say that I can do on Twitter what I do with a blog is a moderately audacious statement, especially given that Twitter is noisy and my blog is almost silent. When I say something on the medium that I own and curate, it gets heard; I cannot say the same when I make comments or share links on Twitter.
I like Joe and his writing and I have learned a lot from his shared experiences. However, we may simply have different motives for pursuing our blogging passions and I have earned my voice in that I have continued to invest in that voice. I write because it’s technical, it’s fun, and it’s one of my hobbies; I share in order to be informative and in the attempt to clear my head and save some things for later. This behavior could be detrimental to someone just starting out and trying to make money blogging, but writing will probably never be my main source of income. I would love a following but the fact that the number of returning readers is insignificant in the grand scheme of the Internet does not discourage me because there is no reason it should. As such, my sharing of content—whether in long-form, link list, or otherwise—should not be dictated that way.
Did the Internet community peak at bookmarks? Asked in a different and perhaps more complete way: just as technologies like RSS and email in their purest forms are hard to beat even as technology marches forward, what better technology exists to keep track of information on the ever-expanding Internet than bookmarks? Taken a step further, what better way to share the bookmarked information than a site of your own? As such, I‘ve been reading, which is why I write now.
Working in and having a passion for libraries, I am struck by the fact that the way bookmarks work in the physical world is not directly analogous to bookmarks in the digital world. Bookmarks in the digital world are instead like dog-eared pages or highlighted passages; if you think of the Internet as a single tome, that is. In any case, anything that moves you to deface a book should probably be shared or become immortalized in some other way than just a reference for a future version of yourself.