Tag: community

Simple sustainable stories

Some people are easy to follow online. They have one social media account to which they post regularly, and back that up with a single website where they expand on those points.

Stowe Boyd, whose work I’ve followed (or attempted to follow) for a few years now, is not one of these people. In fact, the number of platforms he tried earlier this year prompted me to get in touch with him to ask just how many platforms now had his subscribers’ email addresses.

Ironically, it was only last week that I decided to support Stowe’s latest venture via Substack. However, in a post yesterday he explains that he’s going ‘back to square one’:

I won’t recapitulate the many transitions that have gone on in my search for the ‘right’ newsletter/subscription technologies over the past year. But I have come to the conclusion that I am more interested in growing the community of Work Futures readers than I am in trying to make cash flow from it.

The thing I’ve learned about posting things to the internet over the last twenty years is that nobody cares. People support things that reflect who they believe themselves to be right now. That changes over time.

So if you’re putting things online, you have to make sure it works for you. Even the most fun jobs imaginable can become… something else if you focus too much on what a fickle audience wants.

As I said, I am motivated to take these steps in part by the desire to simplify my daily activities, and shelve work patterns that suck time. But I am equally motivated by making the discourse around these topics more open, while encouraging people to support Work Futures, but in that order of importance.

Openness always wins. You can support Stowe’s work via donations, and my work via Patreon.

Source: Work Futures

Feedback from the community

In last week’s newsletter, the first after a month’s hiatus over the summer, I asked the 1,500+ subscribers to Thought Shrapnel’s if they’d send me answers to the following:

  1. What do you really like about Thought Shrapnel in its current format?
  2. What do you dislike about it?

So far, six days later, I’ve received 15 responses, which represents 1% of the subscriber base.

Here’s an anonymised sample of what they said:

  • “I like the diversity of links and ideas that you provide. Not sure if that helps.”
  • “I don’t dislike it, but some of the more technical stuff — blockchain — is less interesting to me than the educational stuff.”
  • “You remind me of myself 40 years ago. Thank you.”
  • “In it’s current format, it’s hard to save to Pocket for offline reading on an airplane (or someplace else without an Internet connection.”
  • “I most appreciate your insight and perspective in these informational sources. That is to suggest…that I for one value when you provide context about the stories you’re sharing. Furthermore, you dig in a bit deeper and educate about the nuance involved…but also the larger impact of this news.”
  • “I’m happy to support the continuing collation of, and reflection on developments. Your thinking touches on multiple fields, and this is something I find particularly valuable.”
  • “For me it’s a better way of keeping up to date with what you’re posting rather than getting notifications of each individual post through other channels.”
  • “I also like how you point to new robust technologies which I’m on the lookout for.”
  • “There’s not much I don’t like and, to be honest, I’m happy to skip the parts each week that aren’t particularly relevant to me.”
  • “I don’t know Google’s parameters for clipping emails, but I do know that I can click the “view full email” option to see it all, but I usually don’t.”

It’s always nice to see kind words written about your work, which I obviously appreciate. The main thing it would seem that I need to change is that the newsletter gets ‘clipped’ by GMail and other providers. In other words, I need to make it shorter.

 

Geek social fallacies

I came across this via a chain of links that took me down a rabbithole. I’m pretty sure it started with an article referenced on Hacker News, but I’m not sure.

In any case, I thought it was pretty interesting. Basically someone who self-identifies as a geek giving other geeks some advice. Having said that, it’s probably applicable more widely than that, particularly among men.

Here’s a taste:

Within the constellation of allied hobbies and subcultures collectively known as geekdom, one finds many social groups bent under a crushing burden of dysfunction, social drama, and general interpersonal wack-ness. It is my opinion that many of these never-ending crises are sparked off by an assortment of pernicious social fallacies — ideas about human interaction which spur their holders to do terrible and stupid things to themselves and to each other.

There’s a list of five such fallacies, my favourite being:

Geek Social Fallacy #4: Friendship Is Transitive

Every carrier of GSF4 has, at some point, said:

“Wouldn’t it be great to get all my groups of friends into one place for one big happy party?!”

If you groaned at that last paragraph, you may be a recovering GSF4 carrier.

GSF4 is the belief that any two of your friends ought to be friends with each other, and if they’re not, something is Very Wrong.

The milder form of GSF4 merely prevents the carrier from perceiving evidence to contradict it; a carrier will refuse to comprehend that two of their friends (or two groups of friends) don’t much care for each other, and will continue to try to bring them together at social events. They may even maintain that a full-scale vendetta is just a misunderstanding between friends that could easily be resolved if the principals would just sit down to talk it out.

A more serious form of GSF4 becomes another “friendship test” fallacy: if you have a friend A, and a friend B, but A & B are not friends, then one of them must not really be your friend at all. It is surprisingly common for a carrier, when faced with two friends who don’t get along, to simply drop one of them.

On the other side of the equation, a carrier who doesn’t like a friend of a friend will often get very passive-aggressive and covertly hostile to the friend of a friend, while vigorously maintaining that we’re one big happy family and everyone is friends.

GSF4 can also lead carriers to make inappropriate requests of people they barely know — asking a friend’s roommate’s ex if they can crash on their couch, asking a college acquaintance from eight years ago for a letter of recommendation at their workplace, and so on. If something is appropriate to ask of a friend, it’s appropriate to ask of a friend of a friend.

Arguably, Friendster was designed by a GSF4 carrier.

Hilarious and insightful at the same time.

Source: Plausibly Deniable

Small ‘b’ blogging

I’ve been a blogger for around 13 years now. What the author of this post says about its value really resonates with me:

Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”.

He talks about the ‘topology’ of blogging changing over the years:

Crucially, these entry points to the network were very big and very accessible. What do I mean by that? Well – in those early days they were very big in the sense that if you got your content on the Digg homepage a lot of people would see it (relative to the total size of the network at the time). And they were very accessible in the sense that it wasn’t that hard to get your content there! I recall having a bunch of Digg homepage hits and Hacker News homepage hits.

I once had 15,000 people read a post of mine within a 24 hour period via a link from Hacker News. Yet the number of people who did something measurable (got in touch, subscribed to my newsletter, etc. ) was effectively zero.

Every community now has a fragmented number of communities, homepages, entry points, tinyletters, influencers and networks. They overlap in weird and wonderful ways – and it means that it’s harder than ever to feel like you got a “homepage” success on these networks. To create a moment that has the whole audience looking at the same thing at the same time.

We shouldn’t write for page views and fame, but instead to create value. Just this week I’ve had people cite back to me posts I wrote years ago. It’s a great thing.

So I challenge you to think clearly about the many disparate networks you’re part of and think about the ideas you might want to offer those networks that you don’t want to get lost in the feed. Ideas you might want to return to. Think about how writing with and for the network might enable you to start blogging. Forget the big B blogging model. Forget Medium’s promise of page views and claps. Forget the guest post on Inc, Forbes and Entrepreneur. Forget Fast Company. Forget fast content.

Source: Tom Critchlow