Anyone can be a publisher now.

The distribution of information used to be a privilege reserved for the few.

The very, very few.

The monopoly of information is over. Any of us can publish whatever we like.

Have you ever given thought to how amazing that is? How huge the changes that have been set in motion really are? The world that our kids will grow old in will be absurdly different to ours.

Sure, this freedom of media means a lot of lies and idiocy have been spread, but it’s naive to think that that didn’t happen before. The difference is, people now are used to casting a critical eye over what they read. We are more discerning than generations before us, because we understand that any article, video, or podcast episode we consume could have been produced by any one of us.

The walls of the gardens have fallen.

Without a blog, you don’t own what you publish

Isn’t social media good enough for people to bleat their little opinions into the stratosphere?

At 02:30 of the talk below, Scott Hanselman talks about his own blog, and how sad it is that recently people have turned to social media, “pouring all this great content” into “walled gardens”, instead of publishing it on a platform they control.

 

The whole talk is a breath of pithy air. I’m expanding only on the first ten minutes or so in this post, so give the rest of it a watch when you have the time.

I found it refreshing to hear a popular, long-time blogger who doesn’t make his living by blogging talking about the practice with such affection.

He believes every programmer should have his or her own blog.

Why?

Scale yourself.

Do as little as possible, as much as you can.

Forget about monthly unique visitors unless you want to use your site as a marketing campaign.

There’s a value in publishing your knowledge that’s more earthy, and much more likely to make a difference, than the ideas of blogging for fame and fortune that are so often written, posted, and retweeted by wannabes.

Instead, imagine sending a colleague to a post you wrote two years ago that answers a question they’re bothering you with today.

The many cumulative hours that repeated questions can sap from your life can be condensed into a single hour writing a useful little blog post, and scaled indefinitely with just a few seconds each time you paste the link.

As a digital publisher, you can scale what you know.

Don’t add to the noise – Be a Signal.

At 06:37, Scott tells us the “secret” to productivity:

“The trick is to ignore as much as you can, and stay focussed on the thing that captures your attention.”

There’s far too much out there to even begin to read it all. Should we really be adding to the noise?

Reading, after a certian age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

– Albert Einstein said that.

I agree with him, though it took me a while to come around. We shouldn’t be consuming magnitudes more than we’re producing.

And no, we shouldn’t be adding pointless noise and re-hashed drivel to the exobytes of data already festering out there on the web, but yes, we should be publishing something useful.

A slightly heart-breaking quote from Scott’s talk: “So many people who had great blogs, now have mediocre tweets. I go back to their blogs, and I find this great personality, they got 50,000 followers, but he hasn’t blogged anything in six months. She hasn’t put up a new video in a year. Well, they’re on Twitter.”

Later in the talk he talks about Scoble, a guy who is apparently a content creating machine, and an example of someone we can appoint as the information processor in our lives, filtering out what’s interesting and what’s not so we don’t have to spend time doing that ourselves. I went over to Scoble’s website, and what I found was a bit tragic, considering what we’ve said.

Another blogger bites the dust.

So is it old news, blogging?

Should we even consider it, when so many veterans are jumping ship?

Of course we should!

I don’t think anything can compare to having your own personal publication.

Have some Permanence, Don’t Fade Away

Social media is a form of self-scaling, sure, and one that comes hand in hand with addictive behaviours and frivolous short-term content.

Things get lost on social media timelines in a couple of weeks, especially on Twitter. You don’t need the powers that be to decide to remove your content for your posts to disappear. They’ll fade on their own.

Unless you own them.

“Start thinking about that.”

(13:23 in the talk)