Days twenty-nine, thirty, and thirty-one: Reflections on trying to blog every day for a month

I didn’t blog every day for a month. I didn’t miss by much, but it’s definitely easier to be disciplined about it at home than it is on the road.

I thought it would be a good experiment, writing slightly longer, compared to a tweet, and it often felt satisfying to mash the publish button. The daily pressure was noticed, though, and reminded me of the year I did one of those one-second-per-day videos. Sometimes you just need to point the camera at the sky; sometimes you just need to jot down some thoughts about jotting down thoughts.

I’m writing this on my laptop on a plane — not on my phone, where I wrote all (I think?) the other posts this month.

Maybe writing those posts didn’t help me separate myself from my phone, but it did give me an outlet for the spare energy of rattling-around thoughts, pithy ideas, and rambling about platforms and projects and photos and it was fun to pull some old file art off my phone.

About Not Tweeting Or Posting On Facebook

Um, many people have spit many hot takes on this topic, and there’s not much I can add. It felt like I was measurably reducing my daily anxiety by not spending much time on Twitter this month. When I did check in from time to time on my laptop during the week (or, admittedly, stealing down to the basement once or twice a day on weekends to get my fix), it was nice to see a joke or two, or someone’s Personal News, and there was that day I unfollowed more than a thousand people, that felt pretty good.

I was still checking news sites multiple times a day on my phone, to feed the “has anything blown up overnight?” monster in my brain, but if you feel overwhelmed and like maybe you need a break from the unrelenting wash of news, then yes, indeed, I would recommend cutting down on Twitter.

And Facebook, sure, although checking in there less was a good reminder that I’ve done a decent job of curating my friends and my feed there, so more often than not, looking at Facebook on my laptop a couple times a day made me feel good.

I kept Instagram on my phone, and although the babies and kids and dogs and meals there have a lot of overlap with my FB feed, I’ve been enjoying Stories.

What now?

Am I going to keep aiming to write a blog post every day? Uhhhhhhmmmmmm hmmmm errrrr… How about I just try to blog whenever I feel like it, whenever I have a thought longer than tweet-length, whenever there’s one of those empty cans making a lot of noise in my head, whenever I want to, more or less, without the long-gone pressure of worrying about my brand or how my work responsibilities and personal opinions (usually about future-of-news stuff) might not always be in alignment.

Am I going to start tweeting again?

Ehhhhhhhhh probably. But I’m going to keep curating pretty hard. I definitely have the thought of making my account private, and/or deleting my old tweets.

It’s tempting to just leave it behind.

Fish tacos, El Pescadito, Mexico City, 2019
Fish tacos, El Pescadito, Mexico City, 2019

11 websites that should never, ever have a Facebook open graph read action that tells my friends what I am looking at on the Internet

  1. Gawker
  2. Deadspin
  3. Most other Gawker sites, really.
  4. Reddit
  5. TMZ
  6. Amazon
  7. Any website mentioning the name “Hunter Moore”
  8. Every alternative weekly ever.
  9. Yahoo News Slideshows
  10. YouTube
  11. Anything still hosted at a domain


The other young gentleman in the sweatshirt running a social network is Moot

Christopher "Moot" Poole at SXSW in 2010, as photographed by mirka23.

Striking, isn’t it, how Moot appears to be some sort of anti-matter to Mark Zuckerberg’s matter? How Facebook and 4chan can simultaneously be ubiquitous, but you’re much more likely to admit to an account on one than the other?

In the throes of my constant and ongoing research and curiosity about comments and commenting systems, I couldn’t help but quietly raise an eyebrow as Facebook launched a sort of Facebook Anywhere commenting system in recent weeks. It’s a little bit like a Disqus with nothing but Facebook for authentication, if that helps compress the explanation for you.

Now there’s places where this — “this” being mandatory use of a Facebook account to leave a comment (whether the account uses a “real” name or not is a bit of an identity-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder problem, eh?) — might work, and places where it might not, but I wasn’t especially surprised to find out that at TechCrunch, using the Facebook commenting system quickly cleaned up discourse, right up to the brink of boring:

“But the other interesting thing we’re seeing is that whereas trollish garbage used to infest the comment section, now we’re seeing almost the opposite. Many people are now leaving comments that gush about the subject of the article in an overly sycophantic way. It’s quite odd. The cold pricklies have turned to warm fuzzies.”

That said, they seem to be happy with the quality of discourse, even if the quantity has decreased:

“With the Facebook system, the most popular posts are only touching around 100 or so comments (obviously, the ones about the commenting system have more). But of those 50 to 100 comments, many of them are actually coherent thoughts in response to the post itself — you know, what a comment is supposed to be.

The emphasis on that last clause is mine.

“What a comment is supposed to be.”

Well, we certainly have high hopes about that, don’t we?

Look at the universe we’ve just discussed, where users with a real identity say nice things about products they like and contribute meaningful bits of commentary on the issues.

Now look at 4chan. [I’m linking to the Wikipedia entry so you can make the call on whether to actually, physically, look at 4chan.]

Before we go any further, let me admit that I fudged a bit in the title of this post. 4chan a social network? Not exactly. With all its users anonymous, no real history of what a user has said or posted, and memes that are carried on into the future more by abstract institutional knowledge than permalink, it is remarkably easy to label 4chan “the antisocial network.”

And even that would be a stretch. Network? It’s a message board. But more like a giant jellyfish, its tentacles spreading over the Internet and getting all tangled with the Reddit octopus and the Tumblr school of anchovies.

So what does Moot (neé Christopher Poole) have to say about the new Facebook Comments system, and the idea of real identity on the Web?

“I think that’s totally wrong.”

The quote is from this VentureBeat story on his talk at SXSW.

Read on:

“Poole argued that anonymity allows users to reveal themselves in a ‘completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way.’


‘The cost of failure is really high when you’re contributing as yourself,’ Poole said.”

And so we come back to the characterization made back on TechCrunch. The one about what a comment is supposed to be.

And yes, I’m going to make this about your news site. What is a comment thread supposed to be, on your news site?

A watercooler by which to carouse and argue and shout and laugh and snort?

A serious space for questions and answers about important issues in the community?

A suggestion box?

A tip line?

All of those? Really? You’re expecting users to stick with the same (real, perhaps) identity and the same interface for all of those functions?




Taking Egypt personally

Although it’s quickly getting pushed out of the news cycle by the Super Bowl and its commercial trappings, plus a big digital media acquisition immediately in the wake of the weekend, the story in Egypt has captured my attention for the last two weeks or so.


It’s not really the politics. At this point, I’m far enough past my teenage years to understand with some comprehensiveness the scope of “revolutions” like this one, where one dictator is replaced with another (worst case scenario playing out, at least temporarily, at the moment) or with democracy (best case scenario) and all its factions, party politics, and pendulumatic swing of power from one sect of the upper class to another, indefinitely, until another coup brings another dictator to power.

In other words, I’ve seen this movie before.

But naturally, I’m drawn to the digital nature of this movement, to the Facebook pages serving as vital organizing tools, to the missing Google executive, to the protestors executing the time-honored urban hack of charging their mobile devices using the wiring in a streetlight’s base, to Andy Carvin’s retweet curation of reliable sources on the ground in and around Tahrir Square.

All of this appeals to me. No matter how it turns out, this period has been a coming of age for a Web-native generation in Egypt.

It’s a generation a bit like my own.