Nov 29 2011
Om Malik delivered a thoughtful recollection of ten years at the front lines of the new, new media revolution yesterday when he recapped a decade of blogging that started in the earliest days of Dave Winer’s Userland, a humble beginning that has grown to one of the leading professional tech blog networks (GigaOm) and his rightfully deserved position as one of the world’s leading tech pundits.
We worked together in the mid-1990s at the launch of Forbes.com until he departed for San Francisco and I decamped for management consulting. What started as a professional relationship quickly turned into a personal friendship that has endured over the years, perhaps forged in the mutual crucible of 85 Fifth Avenue and the dingy second floor office that served as a launch pad for many interesting people and personalities.
Some highlights of his essay that stood out:
- Cacoethes Scribendi: blogs scratch the itch to write for people accustomed to writing a lot. Moving from the intra-day publish-often always-on newscycle of Forbes.com to a monthly print schedule meant he needed a daily outlet. “When I was working for Forbes.com during the early days of the dot-com bubble, I learned a vital lesson – you had to write every day to be any good and to have a complete handle on the beat. There was no way around the plain-old beat the pavement reporting.”
- Twitter Is Not a Blog Killer: maybe it is a communications vehicle for the barely literate, but 140 characters doesn’t stand a chance of competing with 250 words. “Twitter has only acted as an accelerator for my blogging role, allowing me the luxury of writing less but reaching far more people.”
- On curation: “Mostly because curation and sharing of content has become as important as writing. By sharing videos, photos, links, or quotes we are all essentially editors and the sharing itself is an act of editorializing.”
- And of course, what is a great blog post without a good list?
“Here are my 10 lessons learned:
- Blogging is communal: In 2008, I wrote that “blogging is not just an act of publishing but also a communal activity. It is more than leaving comments; it is about creating connections.” That is the single biggest lesson learned of these past 10 years. Every connection has lead to a new idea, new thought and a new opportunity.
- Being authentic in your thoughts and voice is the only way to survive the test of time.
- Being wrong is as important as being right. What’s more important — when wrong, admit that you are wrong and listen to those who are/were right.
- Be regular. And show up to blog every day. After all you are as fresh as your last blog post.
- Treat others as you expect yourself to be treated.
- (In 2006 I wrote this and it is worth repeating) Doc Searls once told me, and it has been one of the guiding principles for me: blog if you have something to say and respect your reader’s time. If you respect their time, they are going to give you some time of their day.
- A long time ago, Slate’s Farhaad Manjoo asked mefor some tips on blogging and here is what I told him – Wait at least 15 minutes before publishing something you’ve written—this will give you enough distance to edit yourself dispassionately.
- Write everything as if your mom is reading your work, a good way to maintain civility and keep your work comprehensible.
- Blogging is not about opinion but it is about viewing the world in a certain way and sharing it with others how you look at things.
The tenth lesson comes from Kevin Kelleher when he was writing for us back in 2010. In his post, How the Internet changed writing he noted:
Many bloggers tailor headlines and posts so that they’ll surface at the top of search results, making them at once easier to find and less enjoyable to read. And this decade, a lot of other bloggers mistook a strong writing voice for caustic irreverence. But most eventually learned that writing with snark is like cooking with salt — a little goes a long way.”
Congratulations on ten years and here’s to ten more (at least) Om.