During the last month, I’ve been experiencing a progressive lack of energy towards writing. Not in general, just regarding technology subjects, which are the main focus of this blog. Not that there’s some shortage of topics to talk about. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I realised that for many of them I haven’t much to say about, and at the same time I’ve noticed that too many pundits out there seem unable to accept that for many of these topics, there’s really not much to say. Instead they go on and on, speculating, hypothesising, and when there’s finally some shed of a fact disproving their flights of fanc… speculation, they just change course and keep speculating and hypothesising again and again until the cycle is repeated.
It’s funny, because for some time I tried to enter that environment and those circles, while now I’m feeling more and more estranged by them. This, as a reader and consumer of tech news and debates. As a writer, I’m just pausing for a moment and thinking about new approaches. In my opinion, the main problems are:
- Too many bloggers, too few writers — It’s increasingly difficult to find well-written stuff. Lately, it seems that a lot of people fancy themselves ‘writers’ and/or ‘curators’; sometimes someone even does a really good job at organising interesting material on his/her blog. There’s the occasional good piece, too, but what I generally notice (I have to generalise here, and I apologise in advance) is that the urge of passing and sharing information outweighs the striving for good style. In other words: a continuous flow of information being passed and bounced around the Web, a lot of attention on the content, so little focus on the form. I’m not saying that form should be more important than content, of course, but that how you convey something should at least be as important as what you’re writing about. Pointing out typos and bad grammar, or criticising how ineffectually one writes is considered bad attitude by the Netiquette. Yes, criticism can come and often comes with snarky remarks designed to hurt the recipient (see problem 4), while there should be more constructive criticism and commentary. But readers are getting too forgiving. Sharing is so easy, they’re content with an ‘interesting’ topic or item and they just pass it along. Which leads to problem 2.
- Too many echoes, too few original sounds — The level of information redundancy on the Web is beyond remedy. Today we’re given incredibly simple tools to share content, and this produces a great deal of inflation. Looking at my RSS reader, despite my efforts to avoid too much noise, for every new 100 items, at least 60–70 are reproduced/shared content, not original pieces. In this deluge of information, thoughtful analyses, fascinating concepts and compelling ideas get drowned and hard to find.
- A lot of shallow analyses, produced by authors with tunnel vision — Writing from experience is a good thing. Basing an analysis solely on personal experience, less so. I stumble on a lot of pieces written by geeks who are incapable of ‘un-geeking’ their point of view for the sake of a broader, more objective argument. For example, they have this distorted idea of the ‘average user’, who either is a projection of themselves, or is a generalised simpleton who barely understands how a computer or a mobile device operates. This leads to pieces where the basic concept, in the end, is “Every design that I don’t like, have difficulties with, don’t understand, is ultimately bad design”. I believe that a good measure of your experience is how little of your personal experience you let come out in your essays, reviews or analyses.
- An audience getting passive and aggressive at the same time — Another alarming trend online. On the one hand, as I mentioned in point 1, I often see too forgiving an audience, which apparently doesn’t have a problem with the frequent poor-to-average quality of what it consumes; perhaps because there are so many things to read everyday, so much information overload that erodes attention and judgment. On the other hand, where there’s criticism, it usually is of a destructive fashion that focuses on the author and not on his/her ideas. The general impression I’m left with is that people are getting increasingly lazy and unwilling to spend some time for constructive feedback, choosing the easy way of one-line quips and brief, snide remarks which don’t help anyone at all.
Bearing these factors in mind, you can understand my situation. This post is titled In-between because I’m in the process of setting up a new place, finally a Web site with my own domain and everything. After ten years of writing online, it’s an important and long-overdue step. I want to broaden the scope of the blog, covering more topics than just technology and Apple, a promise I wrote in the ‘Topics’ section of The Quillink Observer information page and never really kept. In other words, I’d really like to start the new place in a good way. Since I plan to try to make some money out of it, I guess I’ll have to ‘keep it interesting’ by increasing updates and writing brief commentary pieces pointing to other links and so on and so forth. Not exactly the kind of stuff I’m enthusiastic about, since I usually prefer moving at a slower pace, letting news and critiques sink in and writing longer analyses later.
Another issue I’ll have to face when setting up the new place regards the bilingual nature of The Quillink Observer. The ideal for me would be to have the ability to write and publish articles from a single admin interface, but in a way that English-speaking visitors could easily find and read only English content, and Italians could do the same for their language. I’ll see what I can do about it.
Anyway I have two good starting points for getting things right from the beginning: the quality of what I can offer (you’ll forgive this moment of blatant self-confidence), and a great audience which — apart from the occasional, mandatory troll — has been just wonderful over the years. I don’t know exactly when the new Web site will be ready (soon enough, I presume); in the following days I may try different things on this blog, making the most of this in-between situation to experiment new approaches so as to avoid a rough (re)start. Stay tuned, and thanks in advance.