Brands, blogging, snack culture, and a dilemma
Snacklash is the only thing worth reading in the recent Wired feature on snack culture (summary: lots of shorty-short-short stuff proliferates).
Snack culture is an illusion. We have more of everything now, both shorter and longer: one-minute movies and 12-hour epics; instant-gratification Web games and Sid Meiers Civilization IV. Freed from the time restrictions of traditional media, we’re developing a more nuanced awareness of the right length for different kinds of cultural experiences…Yes, it sometimes seems as if we’re living off a cultural diet of blog posts and instant messages – until we find ourselves losing an entire weekend watching season three of The Wire. The truth is, we have more snacks now only because the menu itself has gotten longer.
This sums up the challenge I’ve been in semi-denial of for a while now. My own output of content. For as content creators, we face the same challenges as well.
The posts here on this blog vary in length and thought and time. I’ve started the Quickies as a channel for passing on a link of interest with one or two key thoughts. And there are the longer pieces every so often that summarize an experience or an issue. If you go back and look at the earlier days of this blog, you’ll see a lack of polish and focus, and a lot less content by me.
Now take a look at FreshMeat. The earliest entries are on par with some of stuff I blog now (longer, more focused), but the later entries are like small theses. They are really in-depth, long, and demanding-as-hell to write, especially when a simpler blog entry is easily produced and delivered.
FreshMeat got longer and more intense, as did the blog. A blog entry now is more substantial than a FreshMeat started out to be. It’s an escalation.
And then there’s an infrastructure issue. FreshMeat originally was an email list, with a web thing as secondary distribution. But running a mailing list is increasingly demanding as customers of an ISP. Most don’t want you doing anything like that; moving an existing set of names to a new host sometimes means that everyone has to opt-in again. I’ve got over 1000 names, granted the list is a bit stale, but I can’t imagine I’d get more than 50% re-registering after 2 years of silence.
I still get asked “when’s FreshMeat coming out?” because people enjoyed it. They may be not the same people who make the commitment to read a blog on a regular basis.
The dilemma, then, to readers here, who have a good perspective on my brand and on content and all that, what makes sense? Should FreshMeat be retired? Integrated into the blog? What should the brand be? If I could send one last email to the 1000 names, what should I tell them?
I’m stuck on this one, and I would love your thoughts! Please!