Spring cleaning, as many people do it, is about throwing things away that you no longer need, and polishing those you want to keep, but which no longer look their best. Aside from the season, leaving a job is a pretty good reason to engage in some seasonal dusting and straightening.
Ad editor of a magazine for bloggers and podcasters, I was conscious of a need to speak to the industry we were covering. As much grief as folks like me get for perceived pandering to advertisers, I’ve always been a notorious advocate of readers. Not a bad thing, of course. But here’s the thing, a lot of what people are talking about in the blogging and podcasting world doesn’t inspire me on a personal level. I’m not a marketer or a Web 2.0 triumphalist. Startup culture and practice only interest me in passing. In the new media world, though, these are huge topics, and you just have to cover them. What do I care about? Making media better, whether through development of the best possible content, or using tools to produce a technically better product. I am a geek, after all.
Now I’m on my own, I get to focus on things I’m interested in. In short, I get to do a lot of pruning of my reading list to make way for more really cool stuff. What follows are a few things I’ve added and subtracted, in an attempt to make my consumption of new media more meaningful and palatable.
FEWER A-list bloggers: Imagine a day without name dropping, fawning profiles of companies with really stupid-sounding names, think-skinned responses to another A-listers criticism. Sure, I knew you could.
MORE journalism commentary: I miss actually reading the CJR newsfeed. Watchdogs always need watchdogs.
FEWER marketing mavens: I know you need ads and other revenue sources to make a living with new media. I’m actually interested in working on blogging projects that will generate some income. But I’m a practical gal. I’ll read about how Google tools, SEO, and AdSense works all day long, but I don’t have patience for the touchy-feely marketers who want to touch me on Twitter and Facebook. Ew! Sure, I’m involved in social networking because I want to connect with more people, and learn about more media and technology. I do NOT, however, want to buy your book or product, or watch your sales vid, masquerading as a funny moment from your life.
MORE food and drink bogs: The mistake we make when covering the new media world is in only subscribing to meta bloggers, or the tech news. Want to learn how to write and maintain a good blog? Try finding the very best one about a subject that holds your interest, and about which the blogger knows more than you do. For me, that’s a handful of blogs about cocktail-making. Friends have also been plugging me into food blogs, with great recipes, and great communities. I feel like a better blogger just reading this stuff, because the authors are less self-conscious about the potential A-listers who might be reading or linking, than are the meta bloggers who fairly preen in their digital mirrors with every missive. Anyone know a good classic film blogger?
FEWER press release feeds.
MORE nuts and bolts of blogging blogs. The folks who offer advice and community for writers were under-appreicated during my time at the magazine. I made the judgment that I didn’t have time to read the Top Ten Tips for Writing Better Headlines. I do now, and I intend to load up on the best, most how-to oriented stuff I can find.
MORE Twitter friends: This one surprised me. I figured I’d cut back a bit. But so far, I’m still finding new and interesting people to follow, and I’ve also gotten some great new people lately. Twitter is, if used correctly, the water cooler for the virtual office. And if you can find a way to listen as well as speaking, and limit followers to those who do the same, it’s a wonderful place to be when you’re working barefoot in your home office.
Well, the cat needs feeding. She doesn’t care if I finish a blog post today or not. I’ve still got some feeds to purge, but things are looking cleaner in here.