The snark of working in public

The art of working in public: In which Robin Sloan writes a great blog post about other people writing great blog posts.

“I have two exemplary pieces of 21st-century writing that I want to share with you. Neither is hot off the CMSes; they’ve both aged just a little in their tabbed casks. They have something deeply in common—though it might not be obvious at first.”

From my point of view, “writing great blog posts” feels like a thing of the past, except for a faithful few inspiring souls who still strive to build connections and point to common threads on the Web, not just curating the work of others, but adding something much more valuable than a pithy comment in the process.

It’s certainly a stock/flow issue these days, but I think so much of what I see passed around these days qualifies as flow: Short snippets, curated clips, a video, an animated gif, the trafficking of cleverness in the form of tweets or stars or likes or plusses or some other sharing system that helps us superglue badges to our vests like so many Indian Guides.

Finding time for stock is tricky. Often I feel like the writing I do here that gets the most attention (as measured by aforementioned counts and scores and RTs and stars and comments, etc.) is quick, throwaway, blast writing (not entirely unlike what you’re reading at the moment, eh?), spun up without a great deal of deep research or forethought.

But I do so admire the Dashes and Sloans and Carmodys et al, who do find the time, and provide us with more than fodder for the sharing circuit.

Dear Blogosphere, There’s more to newspapers than The New York Times

I’ve been holding back on this for a long time, and I write enough about the Web development team at nytimes.com enough to be held to this as well, but really, I’m incredibly tired of reading media and technology bloggers debate the future of news as if the only existing newspaper in the world is The New York Times or other papers of its size, scope, or readership.

Here’s a link to an extremely incomplete list of all the newspapers in the U.S. on Wikipedia.

So please, when you talk about “newspapers” or “the future of news” or anything of the sort, please stop thinking about what will replace The New York Times.  The answers to that are obvious, and we see them now at Politico and HuffPo and niche blogs and even Twitter from time to time.

The far, far more interesting question, from my point of view, is what will replace all those other, smaller, newspapers on that long list, especially the ones in towns without blankets of TV coverage, or public radio, or an existing blog community.

The massive changes in the way we get informed that everyone can easily see the negative (for newspapers) evidence of in the form of major metro layoffs and cratering circulation numbers certainly are taking longer to fully filter down to smaller newspapers in smaller towns, but they are certainly filtering down.

So, if it’s journalism that you’re interested in saving, please don’t worry about solving the problem of the NYT.  Worry about solving the problem of keeping communities informed about themselves as what used to be the easiest way to do so becomes economically unwise.

As the printing press fades from memory, the question isn’t going to be, how do you feel about there being no New York Times, it’s going to be something like:  How do you feel about how much you know about your world?

My world happens to be both bigger and smaller than all the news that’s fit to publish.

/minor rant

The Carnival of Journalism is coming to this here town

In some alternate universe back in January, I thought this would be a cool weekend to host the Carnival of Journalism.  That’s just crazy talk, but nevertheless, I hope to serve you well as ringmaster this Memorial Day weekend.

The party gets started Saturday and Sunday.

Check out last month’s carnival, hosted by Yoni Greenbaum, or take a glance at Wikipedia if the phrase blog carnival sounds too mysterious.