As it becomes clearer that people are hiking back to blog on their own sites again, Matt Mullenweg writes about how it’s a lot more challenging to do that these days especially now that it’s become easier than ever to measure—and therefore judge—posts by stars and stats. Every update you make on every social network looks lacking if no one has faved, liked, pinned, upvoted, or +1’d it. While several years ago only those who were into blogging or technology would be all over those graphs and numbers, practically all the people in your life have become exposed to this system and they’re all scrambling to vie for everyone else’s numerical validation.
“This is very discouraging, and at its most insidious causes people to deconstruct the elements of what makes something sharable and attempt to artificially construct these information carbohydrates over and over.”
Hence it’s become commonplace to share those viral, cliffhanger headlines, now filling the news feed once dominated by photos. It’s the system at work, as they gain likes that are practically guaranteed with such tantalizing words. Or if they actually blog, hits that should generate revenue and renown.
The key, Matt says, to not get swept up in hype-driven publishing is something already familiar to the scribbling, doodling type. It’s sage advice we’ve all gotten before, or at least half of it.
“The antidote I’ve found for this is to write for only two people. First, write for yourself, both your present self whose thinking will be clarified by distilling an idea through writing and editing, and your future self who will be able to look back on these words and be reminded of the context in which they were written.
“Second, write for a single person who you have in mind as the perfect person to read what you write, almost like a letter, even if they never will, or a person who you’re sure will read it because of a connection you have to them (hi Mom!). Even on my moblog I have a frequent commenter who I’ll often keep in mind when posting a photo, curious to see her reaction.
“This post might be ephemerally tweeted by dozens of avatars I might or might not recognize, accumulate a number in a database that represents the “hits” it had, and if I’m lucky might even get some comments, but when I get caught up in that the randomness of what becomes popular or generates commentary and what doesn’t it invariably leads me to write less. So blog just for two people.”