Where To Go For Inspiration?

I posted last weekend about the difficulty of blogging every day. It’s something I want to do for a bunch of reasons, most of them selfish. But it’s not always easy to find something interesting to write about.

Sometimes I wake up with a blog post in my head. Sometimes a reader will leave a comment and I’ll think to myself, "that’s a blog post". Sometimes, I’ll simply read something and it will fill me with a desire to say something about it.

But there are many times when I think to myself "what can I write about?"

I suspect many professional bloggers and journalists face this issue all the time and have developed tricks and techniques to deal with it. One of my tricks when I don’t know what to write about is to read blogs until I find something interesting and then start blogging.

For the past year or so, I’ve relied heavily on aggregators like delicious/popular, digg, techmeme, hacker news, reddit, and others to give me the links to stories that will be interesting to blog about.

In that past couple months, that technique is letting me down. I think its largely because I am not finding the news of executive departures at Yahoo!, the latest iPhone rumors, and the like particularly interesting these days.

On the other hand, posts like this one from Umair or this one from Alan Kirby are getting my juices flowing.

As technology blogging has become defined by blogs like Techcrunch, Gigaom, VentureBeat, Valleywag, PaidContent, AlleyInsider, and many others that are quickly becoming news organizations optimizing around scoops and driving readership, I am feeling that we’ve lost something, or at least we need to look elsewhere for that magic that was existent back in the first half of this decade.

Please don’t take this as a criticism of the professional blogs I’ve mentioned above. They are providing an important service to the technology industry and we need them to keep doing what they are doing.

But more and more  I want to read the thoughts of people who blog because they want to as those who blog because its a job. I went on about that last weekend on twitter and some friends sent me custom built pages with some of the things I want. I appreciate their efforts. But that’s not what I am seeking.

Who knows if what I want exists or can exist. But I want techmeme for inspiration. I want a place I can go every day and get inspired by real people. It hasn’t happened for me in many years in traditional media and honestly it’s happening for me less and less these day in online/social media.

If you have any ideas, I am all ears.

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#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. edythe


  2. gregorylent

    answers a tweet i sent this morning … @Meryl333 wonder if there is any vc interest in anti greed and anti narrow about 5 hours ago from web in reply to Meryl333

    1. fredwilson

      That is inspiring in and of itself. Thanks!

  3. matt

    Don’t you play music? I thought I saw that somewhere on your site. Granted that might not be a direct tie to inspiration for writing a blog but maybe the real problem is just the need to get inspired, ie object in motion stays in motion thinking.That’s what I do anyway and works for me. I have a whole bunch of music start pages on Odysen that I use, most of the pages are still in private, but here are some public ones: http://odysen.blogspot.com/….Hope it works, vacations are good too.

    1. fredwilson

      I am on a mini 3 day vacation with my wife and listening to music right now at the gymLots of inspiration in the air!

  4. vruz

    You’re right.A lot of it was lost when we lost BYTE, and Datamation. (I am aware they still exist, I think they remain in some zombie form)Some of the best minds went to work for the companies they covered, like Jon Udell, who’s now a Microsoft employee.Others try to lead an independent life blogging in pajamas from home, and do something else to cover costs.The serious, skilled reporter who can understand deep issues and present them in an interesting, thought-provoking way is sadly a species in extinction.If Arrington is the canon after whom the next generation of tech journalists/authors is going to be modelled, we’re going to get an awful lot of lawyers.Maybe there’s a business model for a serious publication that could charge $5 monthly, but you know you’d be getting real beef, not a big-mac.

    1. LukeG

      I have to believe that the serious, skilled reporters writing in-depth, analytical, though provoking articles will eventually separate from the chaff. At best (I hope) we’re in the just-learning-to-try-to-walk stages of this distributed media experiment. Techcrunch is not the New York Times of the web world; Techcrunch is like the broadsheet rag that got thrown into the hands of the folks fresh from Ellis Island, when our sense of ourselves as a larger community, and of how we really fit into a larger historical movement, was barely existent.Part of this has to be generational. As more people are born into the web world, the more talent – journalistic and otherwise – we’ll have around to help us talk story and figure out what it all means.

      1. vruz

        “I want to believe”:-)

  5. pedalpete

    i stopped looking at digg long ago, and it seems techcrunch, mashable and the like all circle around the same stories. Even a new site ‘startupmeme’ which i found a few weeks ago is focusing on the same ‘big’ stories and leaving interesting start-ups without a place to get coverage.For ‘inspiration’ , i’m a huge fan ofhttp://amazingstufftome.blo…http://wakeuptiger.blogspot…What i think is missing is not only original thought and stories, but actual in depth analysis of what disruptions may cause. Hopefully Disqus will be able to bring expertise and expansion of thought into what has become mundane blogging. Maybe the blogger isn’t as important as a reporter rather than as a location?

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the links and yes, the comments are much better these days than the posts

      1. Emil Sotirov

        Yes… because we are moving further away from the monological… towards the truly conversational (polylogical). The monological self-expression may in fact very well die at some point.

        1. terra210

          I don;t see how there could ever be monological self expression, as no one lives in a vacuum. I think there is distributed, collaborative expression, AND there is what I like to call “node production”, which is when a ideas are focused at a single point. We are all as individuals, “nodes”. and the way we process information is unique. If extended time is spent by an individual, developing information they receive, then their output will take a unique form, which may have value for the larger field or network.

          1. Emil Sotirov

            “Monological” as an ideological contruct… as in “monotheism”… as something people still believe in. There is so much of this belief – the “creative” god-like “genius” who invents stuff out of nothing, etc… People just love this myth… “God is dead” was and still is a difficult thing to swallow for so many people. Now it’s “the Author is dead” we’re still having trouble with…The individual as a cultural “node” – yeah, of course, exactly! We don’t “create” – we process and transform.

          2. terra210

            But the way we process, has a particular structure to it; an identifiable “motif”. And isolation makes this motif idiosyncratic. which can have interesting consequences. also, disjunctures, (such as trauma or disorientation), can also cause the pattern of ones filter to take on a “particular form”. These strange forms, become perturbances themselves; ruptures in the field.Beliefs are beliefs.(I.e. God). I don’t have a problem with them except when they are used as hammers. Which they only are when they become organized into groups with doctrines….Most terms, “author is dead” can also become hammering doctrines!

          3. Emil Sotirov

            re: “the way we process…” (your whole paragraph) – that’s exactly what I meant by “transform”…re: “beliefs” – I have a huge problem when a guy in the White House mumbles about his “Higher Father” and leads a 300 million nation into the wrong war without even consulting with his real father…re: “hammering” – true…

          4. fredwilson

            I have a huge problem with that too emil

        2. Boudicca

          Well said. II sincerely hope that we are moving away from the monological and towards the polylogical.

  6. LukeG

    I’m with you. I think at least 70%-80% of the feeds I read qualify as just news – they seem to be what it takes to keep generally abreast of this social technology wave we’re riding. This is the stuff I skim through.I love seeing long articles from the relatively low-frequency blogs in my reader. I don’t know that you can get much good, real, deep, and potentially profound thinking done on a high-volume basis, and while there may be millions of examples of two-sentence soundbite wisdom floating around, that(this) is after the fact. You can bet that the pre-packaged quotes we enjoy now started out a fair bit longer – right ideas may be simple, but explaining them to people whose perspective is deeply rooted in a particular paradigm or meme is not.The earth does, though, does revolve around the sun. Or so they say.

  7. Joe Lazarus

    This probably isn’t what you had in mind, but here’s an idea. Why don’t you hand pick guest bloggers to post something new to AVC once a week or as often as you want. Instead of featuring Arrington & company, you select people from your community – entrepreneurs, musicians, the chef at your favorite restaurant, the activist trying to save the Piers, or just regular folks who post an interesting comment that you want to explore in more detail. The guest writes about a topic that’s interesting to you personally. You then follow up with a post covering your own opinion of their post, if you’re so inclined. Play it by ear until you find what works for you and the guest bloggers. Treat it as an experiment. It’s a hack to test the idea of elevating comments, surfacing the thoughts of real people, and mixing things up a bit.

    1. toddmaki

      I think Joe is onto something here. When I first read the title for this blog I thought, “That’s simple, take a walk.” A problem with having so much news to follow and so many blogs to participate in that we get buried in the details of who is doing/saying/planning what. We forget to enjoy the things in life that are unique for what they are, not the ripples that surround them.For me, taking a walk is a way to clear my mind, take a step out of my computer, and develop ideas spurred by things other than words and images on a screen. Bringing in a guest blogger occasionally could be a way for AVC to take a walk when in need of some unique inspiration.

    2. fredwilson

      That’s a great ideaI really need a ‘submission queue’ on avc

      1. Jason Preston

        If you want to go that route, you could set up a twitter account (maybe @guestavc) and then have people who want to write guest posts ping you with 140-character post ideas.I feel like you should be able to get a post idea across in that space, and you can subscribe to the replies RSS feed to keep track of the suggestions/submissions. Also it’s public so it could work as a conversation starter around any given topic.

    3. Michael F. Martin

      Eugene Volokh has been doing just this for the legal academic community for years at volokh.com

  8. Drama 2.0

    Fred: have you ever considered that inspiration comes primarily from within?Perhaps your problem is that you’ve been searching for inspiration from others instead of searching for it within yourself.As Carl Jung said, “He who looks outside, dreams; he who looks inside, awakes.”

    1. fredwilson

      I am sure that is true.But I work in a business where others inspire me daily with their energy, passion, and ideasMaybe I’ve made that a crutch

    2. Emil Sotirov

      How about a revised Jung-ism:”He who looks inside, dreams; he who looks outside, awakes.” – and that would probably be the core of what I got from my years in cultural studies… and very much at the base of my personal worldview – I never realized how perfectly anti-Jungian I was in this way… 🙂

  9. sylvan-mirror

    I think it is just as life is. When I was once surrounded by intensely creative people, after a while, they all seemed the same; and in many ways they were. Their language became the same. They clamoured after things they needed in the same way. Then I met someone named Sylvan. She was from deep in the bayou in Louisiana. She did not use the same tools others did to understand the world. And yet she surpassed others in her work. As it broke context. You can’t surround yourself with only like minds, if you want to learn something new. My 2 cents. You have to be open to things you don’t understand too. think of Franny and Zooey. you really have to break context.

  10. johnpana

    Inspiration will come from interaction.Quality posts will be rewarded with quality replies, and hopefully the cycle can continue unfettered – constantly testing hypothesis and ideas , expanding knowledge and human expression to an unfathomed depth. Poor ideas will be will be disseminated, and logic and reason will prevail.Guys like yourself, Godin, Haque, and countless others are leading the movement, and I feel lucky to be able to contribute. Mankinds natural curiosity, the desire to adapt, evolve and develop will ensure that this won’t stop, and there will never be shortage of things to discuss, comment on and analyse. As long as we’re around at least.

    1. Michael F. Martin

      This seems right. But what’s the highest barrier to interaction here? I think it’s the fear of rejection. In some ways, being ignored online is more painful and permanent a record of rejection than being ignored offline.

      1. fredwilson

        But not as immediate

        1. Michael F. Martin

          Yes, but the immediacy recurs when rejection can be refresh digitally. Analog wounds heal as analog memory fades.

      2. terra210

        there was an interesting discussion on FF about this. If you choose to ignore or block people whose opinion is different than your own, are you being intolerant?Tad Donaghe posted :”I don’t mean to criticize anyone who blocks other people that they find insulting or annoying. I usually won’t unless it’s extremely egregious. I’m a huge fan of Robert Anton Wilson and one of his big things was absorbing as many different viewpoints and possible and then seeing what happens to your own. You see just how sturdy your memes are”If the posts are reasonable and meaningful, ultimately it will say more about those responding, (or not), than it will about the one posting.

        1. fredwilson

          I agree. I love posting about politics because it brings out a lot of readers who strongly disagree with me. I respect their views, as long as they are stated politley. And it helps me rethink my views.

    2. fredwilson

      And I plan on passing on my enthusiasm for the conversation to my children

  11. LukeG

    http://www.williams.edu/hom…via GoodExperience”I have no problem with the virtual reality on your screens as long as you are aware that it is virtual. My concern is that experience by proxy is a poor substitute for the reality of the interactive space we inhabit. As a sculptor I believe that perception structures thought and that to see is to think and conversely to think is to see. The virtual reality of the media, be it television or internet, limits our perception in that it affects our sense of space. It immobilizes our ability to apprehend actual physical space. Don’t let the rhetoric of simulation steal away the immediacy of your experience. Keep it real, keep it in the moment.” Richard SerraLooks like there are little bits of wonder floating everywhere tonight…

    1. Michael F. Martin

      Perception does structure thought. And to think is to see. But the converse is not necessarily true, depending on what Serra means. The late Paul Bach-y-Rita has shown that we can “see” — i.e., perceive physical space — with our sense of touch, for example.But why is the immediacy of physical space important? I would say it’s because it permits for depth-perception — i.e., inarticulate information about how close we are to one-another — and the higher bandwidth channel of communication that depth-perception permits.

    2. fredwilson

      SweetCommencement adresses are a great source of inspiration as is richard’s work

  12. Tony Bain

    Perhaps this means real people aren’t that exciting and it takes a lot of work to be interesting. This is inspiring to me, to know perhaps I am not alone in being as boring as I am.:)

    1. terra210

      I like this. It’s honest.

  13. Michael F. Martin

    I don’t think this is so mysterious a question. Think about how it works in offline and you’ll have your answer. When you’re getting bored of the conversation at a party, you wander off and join another group until you’ve had your fill of that conversation too. And then you repeat. On a longer time scale, you go to different parties with different groups of people to fulfill your evolving need for different information. The Internet is no different.The thing you may have overlooked is that — just like at parties — you need to reach out to new groups in order to discover new information and common interests. You are a very lucky person indeed if the people you are interested in talking to always wander up to you and start conversations. That almost never happens to me anyway.Then again, maybe you shouldn’t take my advice on this. I haven’t been to many parties since I was in college (many moons ago).

    1. fredwilson

      Right. I was looking for some parties to go to. And I got a few good suggestions

  14. gregorylent

    inspiration comes from inner silence … it may seems that something outside triggers it, but the is the switch, not the power plant .. .. one reason your site is so consistently good is that you do have a lot of inner silenceand as a side note about the switch, i bet when you are in edinburgh, you will have three months worth of ideas pop into your mind

    1. scott crawford

      “Words stink up the place.” — Duke Ellington.

    2. fredwilson

      I sure hope soThe fringe is where I want to be in all things

  15. Greg G.

    I personally find inspiration from screenshots, photos and videos, as oppose to articles. This way your thoughts are not built around another writers words. The images from http://www.techeblog.com/ are always inspiring.

    1. fredwilson

      Agreed. Which is why I go to tumblr radar (www.tumblr.com) first thing every morningI just wish the images were larger

  16. Martin Owen

    The eco-psychologist Gibson said something cool” “it’s not what is in your head, it is what your head is in”.Fred, you and I live in different spaces. I am bootstrapping a strtup on the western shores of Europe and you are a VC in New York. Hopefully in the end there is a symbiotic relationship. I need to know your perceptions of world/tech/investement… and ultimately you need to know where the head of folk like me is in – I hope to be your future fortune. However my blogging is mainly for the people I need to inform in the short term (I am doing a keynote in Capetown next week and so all my prep and refs are “public” if you knew the URL). It allows me to be terse and expects them to follow up the Tumblr.You can/should be different to Arrington- I read you because I need to feel your space – just say what is there.

  17. Toufique

    Fred, I LOVE this post. As much as I hate regurgitated posts, I’ll have to reblog this one 😉 Maybe it’s because I’m a closet luddite, but I don’t see the point of a lot of the new technologies/startups, and I rarely read the news or news-like blogs. I look at most things and think, “That’s cool, but so what?” Most things aren’t interesting to me because they’re not unexpected. I read a research paper once that argued the most interesting information is that which is unexpected and challenges (disrupts even) our internal models of the world.So when I read that 10th post about Twitter being down, I think “Duh! Big whoop” because I’ve already accounted for it in my internal models. But if I read “Postmodernism is dead” or “The invisible hand is crippled,” I stop and think “Whoa! That changes things.” So if you’re looking for sources of inspiration, I guess the question to ask is where do you frequently find information that actually challenges your world view? Any suggestions anyone? I’m trying to keep my RSS reader from lowering my IQ.

    1. fredwilson

      As many people know I don’t use a RSS reader. It simply reinforces the known and crowds out time for the unknown

      1. Emil Sotirov

        I use Google reader… but I never used Digg or Techmeme… “people as filters” works well only when you have your own specific “collection” of people… You Fred, are one of my main “filters”… along with Umair, Brad Feld, and a few others.That’s my professional mini echo chamber – yes, but if we believe in the “network” magic, then we should assume that my echo chamber is related to many others THROUGH you, Umair, Brad, etc…

      2. Derrick

        I totally agree. The same old sources with the same old opinions. I recently got an invite to the beta of http://www.filtrbox.com/They compile stories based on topics I enter and continue to refine. What I like the most are all of the little esoteric posts that I would normally miss on important topics for me. I have gotten more truly creative insights into the topics through their little service than any of the feeds I use to read.I love this space (emerging web technologies), but really was looking for a way to capture all of the postings living below the radar.I hope this helps.

      3. Dan Lewis

        I have to disagree, at least since the “share” option became available. I’ve found at least six blogs which are now mainstays via others sharing that way, and for me, it’s 100% passive.

      4. Josh Young

        That’s not really fair. An RSS reader crowds out the unknown (delicious unknown unknowns, actually, a la Rummy) only insofar as one’s unwilling to click out of it. Meantime, an RSS reader is a fantastically efficient tool for absorbing the known (known unknowns, hopefully).

  18. Ada

    on blogspot, there is an option where you can click next blog, it randomly connects you to another blogspot blog. That is definitely connecting you to other real people in a random way. It won’t necessarily give you real people and technology, but it will give you real people who are blogging and show you what’s going on somewhere in the world.

    1. fredwilson

      I like that idea but maybe it could be a bit smarter than random

  19. MJM

    I think you are correct. The major tech blogs simply compete as news organizations – who can be the first to break a story. There is very little thoughtful analysis.

  20. aweissman

    I wish someone would bring web rings back – remember those – always a great way to find new sites

    1. fredwilson

      Tumblr is close but not exactly

  21. Alan Warms

    Fred –I think part of what we’re seeing is the downside of insta-reporting. We’re getting so much up to the second, constant reporting, all “breathless,” — that no one is taking a second to think about the meta, or perspective.One of my favorite adages as an entrepreneur and still now is “nothing is either as good or bad as it seems.” The blogosphere (certainly politics, tech, celebrity news)in a lot of ways seems to make the highs higher and the lows lower, helped no doubt by signal repeaters like BuzzTracker or TechMeme.Your stuff is thoughtful and analytic. What happens is when there are a ton of inputs from happenings like YHOO today into your system of inspiration, it completely breaks down and doesn’t add a ton of value.As a VC — you are used to keeping your eye on the long run — a lot of your sources aren’t able to step back.One idea for you: you could also take advantage of your incredible insight, contacts and sources yourself to do a “meta” piece, with original reporting — “what does it mean” from the perspective of a guy who has actually built incredibly long run companies in conjunction with the entrepreneurs? And you could could ask MUCH MUCH better questions than most of the tech bloggers out there…i think the current commentary is sorely lacking that. I know you don’t want to be a journalist — but you could help bring meaning.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s an interesting thought Al. Not sure I can put enough time into this to make it work. Probably need to merge this idea with Joe’s

  22. thomasl824

    Take a break for awhile. Get away from the day to day “grind” that your blog has become and see if you get it back by going away.I’d rather see a once a week/month great blog from you then forced daily stuff.

  23. Guest

    Fred,when do you think are we going to see some VC fund managers taken away in handcuffs, like the two Bear Stearns guys yesterday? It will be a highly educational visual on how not to lie when raising a fund…

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know about thatWhat would lie about when you raise a fund?Your prior track record? Maybe, but that stuff is checked pretty well by lpsFred

      1. Guest

        It’s the other way around: when your track record sucks is when the need arises to lie about everything else .”We have hot new dealflow” “Things are looking great in the last fund, exits are around the corner”, etc. etc.

        1. fredwilson

          Right but there’s one essential differenceVC’s raise funds when there is noting in themThe bear guys were raising money when the assets in their fund were blowing up

          1. Guest

            That’s really not the point. The issue is lying and misrepresentation. A drop in asset values may be viewed sincerely as a “dip” rather than a “blowup”, in which case the “awesome opportunity” pitch would have been sincere and the Feds would have no case. A VC manager pitching to lps by making misrepresentations about portfolio companies in his/her previous fund, or future prospects, while at the same time knowing that to be false is as odious as these Bear guys…

          2. fredwilson

            I am not saying it won’t happen. I am just saying it’s not as likely tohappen.

  24. Erik Peterson

    Fred,I work for a company called Skribit, and we make a content suggestion widget for blogs. This may be what you’re looking for. Basically, you ask your readers “What should I write about?” in a sidebar widget, and then they post suggestions which get voted on by your users. It is a very easy (and useful, we hope) way of gathering what your readers are interested in hearing about.We’re looking to expand this idea of inspiration beyond just the sidebar widget, and I would love to discuss it further with you. If you like, you can shoot me an email at erik !at! skribit |dot| com.

    1. fredwilson

      I’ll check it outVery useful for me

  25. jer979

    Your kids are in the midst of SAT’s right? here’s my analogy (are they still on the test?)Your blog: TechCrunch/GigaOmOp-ed: Front pageThose guys report the news….well. You give us insight, analysis, context, and a macro perspective.

  26. RacerRick

    What about adding some video to the site? Like that seesmic with you and Loic… do 5 minutes on AVC each week with someone you meet.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t think that video was particularly useful or insightful

  27. falicon

    I have no idea how you would do it, but it sounds to me like you want a way to look at the “long tail” and pull out the things you find interesting…without having to know what you first find interesting (and that’s the kicker)…I get the feeling that much of the semantic talk you are hearing bubble up is eventually going to get us closer…but it’s still a long ways off I think.

    1. fredwilson

      Our investment in adaptive blue is a bet on that. It is, as tim o’reilly says, a hard problem

  28. Tom

    Sometimes the web cannot replace real world interactions with people you find entertaining and intellectual. Plan a big lunch and talk to people one on one.

    1. fredwilson

      The shake shack flash mob meetups are like thatAnd they are great

      1. Tom

        Is there a way to find out when those happen without Twitter?

        1. falicon

          They seem to happen a lot on Fridays around lunch time…at least the Path 101 guys are usually there on that day…and sometimes they send out a notice (via their blogs) so that other start-up minded people can join them too…so I would say either subscribe to Charlie’s blog or just try showing up to the Shake Shack on a few random Fridays around 11:45 to 12:00 and see what happens. 🙂

          1. Tom


          2. fredwilson

            Or follow @shakeshack on twitter. You don’t really need to use twitter to do thatJust send a text message to 40404 that says follow shakeshackyou’ll be using twitter for just one little (but very big) thing

  29. kid mercury

    inspiration comes from truth. the more you block truth, the more you block inspiration. find honest stuff and you’ll always be inspired, in fact you’ll have so much inspiration you won’t know what to do with yourself.of course we live in a world of lies that goes to great lengths to block the truth, and so the world can seem very uninspiring.

  30. Doug Kersten

    I think you are feeling something I have noticed also. The edge is not there any more. You don’t see the hunger and passion in the blogs/sites you mentioned above. They are becoming mainstream in their thinking. They all are talking about the same things at the same time but the things they talk about are common or things that they have in common. I have been trying to find places to look outside of these blogs/sites. Lately I have been looking for the sources and subscribing to their feeds. People who are still passionate and don’t jump on the bandwagon every time something is written by the sites that consider themselves the elite. I go to different industries. I love the web and anything to do with it so I place my focus there but it is tough to see that hunger that a hard off individual trying to make it displays (I am talking about the current popular tech blogs and sites). It seems like individuals pushing the envelope aren’t a part of the conversation anymore because the mainstream thinks they are playing with toys and doesn’t see the potential. More and more writing is about big corporations or “startups” with tens of millions in the bank. Once you get comfortable your edginess disappears and that is what I am starting to see in the industry. Someone should be out there promoting the little guy. Techcrunch used to do this and this is what launched them on their way to success.One place I have really like lately is summize.com. I put in Tiger Woods the other day and just sat there refreshing for several hours. It was like my own personal news feed but edgy and cool. You could sense excitement in people’s tweets. Every once in a while a spammer would stick his head in the door. It was just excellent seeing the story develop. It’s how blogs used to be. It’s how I wish they still were.Doug K.

    1. fredwilson

      Summize and disqus are both awesome for finding passion

  31. Robert John Ed

    Fred-I’ve long enjoyed your blog because you write often and are laid back about it.One really good thing to do is just sort of “link surf” through to new blogs and read people whom you’ve never heard of before. Additionally, read about stuff that you aren’t necessarily driven to learn for financial reasons. I try to read new blogs every month and every now and then it is on something somewhat unrelated to my normal business/marketing acumen.It’s certainly worth a shot. Personally, I love when bloggers write about themselves and their own lives. It lets you know who they are and what drives their ideas. Very few bloggers are as interesting to me as those who are willing to disclose aspects of their real lives, not just writing about their business and expertise (Seth is probably the most notable exception).

  32. Tom

    I second all the people who have mentioned getting out of the office. And not just to a place you’re already familiar with, but somewhere brand new or changed since you’ve been. The MOMA, the Sculpture Garden in Astoria, the train out of Grand Central to the Appalachian trail on weekends. Someplace where your phone doesn’t work…. 🙂

  33. David B.

    Nature spends as much time getting inspired, Spring, as it does in culling, Winter.Personally, I spend a lot of time getting information and getting inspired; but then I also spend some time unplugged: no gadgets, no news. I feel it gives me the perspective to put things in place and decide what’s wheat and what’s chaff.

  34. Nick Molnar

    I think the answer might be to go cross-disciplinary. See who the most interesting bloggers are in less obviously related fields and escape from the tech echo chamber. Your Allan Kirby post was a great example of how something from outside the tech world can be very engaging when put in a new context. Art, philosophy, biology, physics, clean-tech, etc.Everyone who has a blog also has some thoughts about the nature of the web and where it is going.

  35. Chase Barfield

    Mr. Wilson – I too, from time to time, run into the problem that plagues you. I carry a notepad with me and jot down things I see throughout my day that are interesting, whether they be conversations, news, email, tv ads, etc. Then I transpose those thoughts into topics and save them as individual drafts. Now, when I sit down to post, I normally have an abundance of topics to choose from. I hope this was helpful.

  36. Geoff

    Maybe get involved more with places & people that are on the edge in the poorer countries eg India, Brazil etc. Just been reading The Emperors of Chocolate (Thanks Gotham Gal) and what Hershey did in giving away all his money to his foundation for poorer children is pretty inspiring and helped to produce the next generation of business leaders.

  37. gzino

    I don’t blog nearly as much as you do, but have used Google’s blog search much more than Techmeme lately when have time to read. Another case of search trumping aggregation. In this case I think because Techmeme puts way too much weight on the blog itself, whereas Google is putting more weight on links to the individual post.

  38. Liz

    Wow! I thought i was the only person with this problem. Part of what “disables” me is that I use to just read a handful of blogs and they helped me generate my own ideas. But now I’m tracking more and more blogs (dozens) and I find myself left with nothing to say. I don’t think I’ve blogged for over a week.I’ll sometimes pass on a video clip, photograph or talk about a news story but I aim for original content (or else why bother, right?). My only suggestion–and one I need to take myself–is to read a little less and think about what you DO read a little more (less busy time, more reflection).I’ve recently been overTwittering and I’m finding that just the incredible flow of information and links that comes AT me through Twitter and blog feeds is getting harder and harder to process. Turning things off and stepping back for a while helps me hear what is emerging from my own mind instead of using my brain to try to juggle and evaluate all of the data that is coming across my path.There are a ton of books on writing and creativity out there (a real mix of approaches) so I’d be happy to make a recommendation if you want to look into this further. I really find trying to understand where creative ideas come from a fascinating pursuit.

  39. RacerRick

    What about a delicious-like feed of recommended reading from just your regular users?So like Techmeme from/for your audience?

    1. fredwilson

      the for:fredwilson tag on deliciousIts awesome

      1. RacerRick

        What about using a TwitterBot for reading recommendations. Have your audience forward links to good articles or even great comments.

  40. Brandon K

    Here’s something songwriter Dan Bern once said about writing and inspiration:”I write while driving, walking, swimming, riding a bike, listening to music. I write on napkins, on my hand, on the dashboard. I sing melodies into tape recorders or i call my phone machine, and now my cell phone lets you record for one minute. I write on the road and in hotels and at home. If a song is coming in, it’s coming in, and everything else stops until it’s done coming in. They come in during movies and sex and sports. And then sometimes they don’t come. And i think i’ll never write another song again. i’ve probably thought that at least a thousand times. i used to be all, like, statistical about it. i’d keep songwriting percentages on myself. i quit doing that, thankfully.”

  41. Mark Evans

    Fred,The challenge you’re trying to tackle is coming up with insightful post ideas as opposed to jumping on a particular bandwagon. One of the tricks I use to gain inspiration for good blogs posts is simply taking a step back from the digital roar. It’s amazing how good ideas can surface when you’re not online. You can be reading a book, watching a baseball game or riding your bike when suddenly an idea emerges because you have time to think – something people don’t give ourselves enough time to do in our hurlyburly, mutli-tasking worlds.

  42. Michael Weiksner

    I hear what you are saying. In 2000, I launched a political discussion forum called http://www.e-thepeople.org that is philosophically similar to what you are seeking in this sense: the mission is to let regular, thoughtful people set the political agenda and to frame the political debate. Right now, it has turned into a group-blog with a digg-like rating system. Of course, neither blogs nor digg existed when we launched our site.I think our results have been mixed. It is satisfying to have created a site that fosters thoughtful discussion across geographic, ideological and partisan lines. I often surprised at the new takes on top stories and introduction of important stories missed by the MSM. And the community via volunteer contributions (e.g., no paid moderators or posters) has existed for 8 years uninterrupted!But there are some disappointments. The number of people who want to participate in such a site is limited. The number of people who are interested in following such discussion is slightly less limited, but it still isn’t huge. Finally, one of the toughest aspects is that most people can’t help but be ditto heads in one way or the other!Now, my site isn’t what you looking for, since you are thinking more in terms of technology and business than politics. But I think that some of the challenges (and successes) of e-thePeople would indeed translate into a biz tech community site if someone were to launch one.Finally, I will say one last thing. Our site focused on discussion only, with lame petition and letter-writing tools as placeholders for political action. I think your blog is interesting not just because you are a thought-leader, but also because you as a VC are a doer. You are talking about a space where you are already a player. I think a really community site should have entrepreneurs, funders and thought-leaders all at the same place. Talking by itself gets boring after a while.Thanks for your post. And I hope you can find–or create–what you are looking for.Cheers!

  43. CCjudy

    Musings of a VC is completetime to reinvent the nature of inauthenticity is when the future you live into is given by the pastI perceive that you are a highly creative person and when you started this it was a bright creative possibility and now the spark is missing

  44. David Sonenberg

    Fred,I really enjoyed your post today as well as the one linked at the bottom titled “Why Original Blog Thought is So Difficult.” I am a InfoSec professional who has stayed away from the blogging and social network sites until recently. My wife often asks me why I bother keeping a blog? At first it was because I wanted an avenue to explore all of the new and innovative technologies that have been popping up. I then started to question the usefulness blogging because of the lack of original content. I’m now starting to see that blogging provides both a commentary on the content it’s linking as well as a means for distribution.

  45. Stuart Argabright

    Inspiration comes – and goes.Sometimes in this city it adds up to something, some little thing seen briefly at bookstore, something someone said.Because most of the week is filled with doing stuff, I usually get to posting on the wkend.By then all sorts of items have accumulated.Sometimes words for lyrics show up in this mode, become part of the wordpool.Cheers and have a great onewww.myspace.com/ikeyardDissensus

  46. Steven Kane

    You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. –Jack LondonInspiration exists, but it has to find us working.–Pablo Picasso

    1. Liz

      Except for the club bit, I like this advice. They highlight that you can’t sit and wait for inspiration to come along. You don’t think and then write, your ideas form while you are working/writing.

    2. fredwilson

      I like those quotes steveI have a thirst for inspiration that is hard to quench

      1. Steven Kane

        Even though the search for inspiration is maddening, I consider myself superlucky that my life regularly consists of pursuing that search:)

        1. fredwilson

          Me too

  47. pamslim

    Hi Fred:While I love to look around on the web for information, some of my most on-target posts come from reflecting on a set of questions I use when thinking about my readers:-What problems do they face?-What really scares them?-What is *not* being said on the subject on other news sources or blogs?-What can I share that will make their life easier?-How can I make them feel more supported and confident?-Who can I put them in contact with (via links or references) that will give them good information and advice?-What will be fun and interesting to write about?One of my favorite books on writing, Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit, says:”…inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness. I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead in front of another.”I wish all my writing days were like this, but I can aspire!Good luck.-Pam

  48. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    How weird. I’m just reading this post since I get your blog updates via email. I’ve been feeling a little bit of the same myself (plus my time has recently become more tight) and in fact last night I did a post about blog transitions and fortune cookies http://www.entrepremusings…..

  49. John Furrier

    what are you trying to say? wait that’s a blog post 🙂

  50. Michael E. Rubin, Blog Council

    Fred,Part of what may be driving you to ask these (very worthwhile) questions is not just the lack of inspiration, but the sheer lack of civility. I’m amazed at how callous everyone is over the Yahoo! situation. Trained professionals (yep, looking at you Kara Swisher) and everyday bloggers are gleefully reporting on executive departures like it’s a parlor game. They completely forget that these are real people, most of whom have families, and how awful it must be not knowing if your paycheck is not going to be there in a few weeks’ time.Inspiration is one thing. It would be lovely to start seeing some *niceness* back in blogging….Michael

    1. fredwilson

      Me too.Snarky is fun for about a nanosecondNice is fun forever

  51. Ross Mayfield

    Turn back on your newsreader and read what your friends are writing

    1. alexhwilliams

      Ross – That’s great advice. I think we are all reading the same news. The reader, with all its feeds, helps break the rut.

    2. fredwilson

      That’s not going to happen Ross.I’ve tried dozens of timesIt just doesn’t work for me

  52. Daniel Tunkelang

    I gotta hand it to you–there aren’t too many people out there who can say “Please inspire me” and get over a hundred comments in response. It’s good to be popular. :)As I see it, you can live or you can record. If you’re living life to the dregs, then blogging should just be a matter of hitting pause to take notes. I blog a few times a week, and I always feel the the bottleneck is time rather than inspiration.

    1. fredwilson

      I am blessed to have such great readers, it’s what makes this blog to behonest

  53. dominique

    Hello,I’m offering some help :-).We’ve agregated in our “sas application” 225 blogs from VC’s and investors and we’ve some “deep” filtering and capabilities. These are all blogs from people that want to contribute to the conversation and share.( I’m note focusing on VentureBeat or Boing Boing or any mainstream media as these one). Just real blogs.If you’re interested, I can give you a logging.I’ve also some articles in our blog (blog.ecairn.com) that gives ideas on the level of productivity we have as a team contributing in large communities (our focus is a 700 blog community in social marketing but we’ve built list for people engaging in 2000 to 4000 relevant blogs in a given domain: personal finance, food, legal). It takes time but it can be done ! and you end up learning and influencing.Hope this helpsDominique

    1. fredwilson

      I like the idea of a group reader

      1. dominique

        Are you interested in a demo ?

  54. Jim Kukral

    I stopped going to Techmeme months and months ago. It’s a great site, but I purposely didn’t want to do “me too” blogging. I make every post of video/audio now out of an original idea I have. I’ve never been more energized to produce content. The last 3 months have been some of my best blogging ever since 2001. Free yourself.

  55. dave

    Me too. The problem is when you build a machine like TechMeme it gives you what TechMeme is today. You need something else. How about calling a flash conference to figure this out. Invite 10 people over to your house for dinner in a few weeks and we’ll talk about this problem and I bet if you got the right 10 people we’d figure it out. I want it too. Inspiration is what I like too. I got tired of News.Com 15 years ago. That’s what TechMeme is, the new News.Com.

    1. dave

      Wow I didn’t realize how many comments there are here.Let me make another suggestion. Read Scripting News. http://scripting.com/.Now back to our regularly scheduled comment thread.

      1. fredwilson

        Dave ­ I love scripting.comIt’s the best

  56. alexhwilliams

    Ross – That’s great advice. The nuggets are there.

  57. labjerk


  58. Boudicca

    A stumbleupon that only contains blogs?

  59. Doug Skoglund

    Subject: Where To Go For Inspiration??Sorry Fred, the blogosphere was not designed to be inspirational — it was designed, by a few people, to be profitable for a few people. It is a competitive activity and like all competitive activities — only one entity can be Number One — and the rest will attempt to emulate the successful.As a comparison, football is a competitive sport conducted by the National Football League, a cooperative venture. Competition is regulated and controlled for the benefit of the entire League as well as the larger society.In short, the blogosphere needs to be organized (I was going to say “re-organized” — but that is the problem — it never was “organized”) as a cooperative venture.As a matter of fact, the blogosphere is suffering from the same problem that the United States faces — a small group of people have usurped the power of the people, for their personal gain, and are destroying the country in the process.What more inspiration could you want than to participate in solving the country’s (if not the world’s) problems??Obviously, there is a great deal more top be said on this subject!!!Doug Skoglund

    1. Liz

      I think I’m living in a different blogosphere than you are. I don’t know who this “small group of people are” who have “usurped the power of the people” but I suggest you move away from the business/technical/marketing blogs to read some personal/artistic ones. Start with PSFK.com, I always find something inspirational or silly or experimental being reported there.

  60. KevinD

    Fred, take a look at my spam free community http://www.fuelmyblog.com there are over 13,000 blogs in this community, mostly unheard of by the A-listers. It is spam and porn free because we manually approve each user/blog (turn away around 30%),the simple layout allows a quick glance at each blog before viewing and we have 15 broad categories.Some of the community successes, a homeless family blogged their way off the streets, the Dad became one of our community writers and now has a house and full time job, this guy is inspiring. We have had people meet up and become friends, some are now couples, we created a real world community book and managed to donate enough to plant 60,000 trees, but more than anything, it is a place to meet real bloggers. Very simple. Would love to see your thoughts.

    1. fredwilson

      I’ll check it outThanks

  61. Andrew Stuart

    Blogging should be about expressing your genuine original ideas that you feel need to be shared with the world – not “finding something to write about”. If you have nothing to say then PLEASE don’t say something just for the sake of it. If you blog the for sake of it then you end up doing just what you have suggested – you end up commenting on what all the other blogs are writing about. Thats pointless and boring. If you feel that you need to regularly post to your blog (like every day) then your underlying assumption is that we want to hear your voice, not some valuable and original perspective that has arisen from your inherent creativity, experience and insight.If you have nothing to post then it is time to slow down your posts to a slower pace to match your mind. No-one can be expected to be generating compelling and interesting thoughts daily and it is unhealthy for you to think not only that you should, but that others really care anough about your opinion to listen.If you have run of of valuable insights then you really should probably think about retiring. It is hard for me to imagine being venture capitalist and not having a constant dtream of thought provoking things popping into my head.Perhaps this is the essence of the problem with VC’s – they think that they should be talkng constantly and that people will care about whatever waffle they want to spout.Andrew

    1. antje wilsch

      Hi Fred, I’m a writer for a site that features interesting people, and I have to say that I went thru a big cycle of what you refer to above. I even (ahem, sorry) stopped reading your blog for a while and many others I used to enjoy because I had to kind of de-process myself. After reading Scoble’s post about whether to change his baby’s diaper or answer another email I was really disturbed (not specifically at him just this whole plugged in thing).I’m now finding inspiration in every day people. They are doing great things, and many of them are *barely* online.If you want to read some interesting stories totally outside tech, feel free to take a break and read about interesting people on http://www.storyofmylife.com/story…. The only reason I’m here plugging the site is b/c I have been struggling with exactly what you were/are above and finally feel great about what I’m doing – what I’m doing now is not about me at all. I started and stopped my blog a hundred times, and wondered why I was doing it. When I started shining the spotlight on people who are out there doing great things and not very often getting recognition, my entire perspective changed. I must say, I’m a much, much happier girl now that I’m not plugged in 24/7.

      1. fredwilson


    2. fredwilson

      I write this blog mostly for me, not really for the people who read it. Its a diary, a public one, but its a place where I can work through my thoughts, I call it ‘thinking out loud’The reason I want to write every day is because its a routine, part of how I workThat’s how this blog started and I don’t want to get away from that practiceI understand that many readers may think the stuff I write about is forced or repetitive or boring. But I don’t

  62. paul gigi

    maybe, like many of us, you’ve had your fill of “web 2.0.”it’s increasingly predictable, incestuous and ultimately, boring.

  63. Chris Motes

    You can always get inspired by watching the theme to The Greatest American HeroWorks for me! 🙂

  64. D

    Maybe this is what you are looking for… I have a blog that gives people inspiration and motivation. If anyone is interested, please visit sparkmotive.blogspot.com.

  65. slowblogger

    1. Welcome to slow blogging. You don’t have to write one per day.2. Join me in discussing capitalism (and Marxism). Like you, I am not very excited by this and that news. But I am with the ultimate questions of how should human beings live. We can have endless discussions without having to find another topic for tomorrow. I recently wrote about why capitalism should not be called capitalism.http://slowblogger.com/2008

  66. CathleenRitt

    Fred, I am several days behind on this so maybe what I have to say has been covered or ruled out, but with that caveat in mind…Several years ago I read an article by Seth Godin where he talked about “zooming”. From what I remember it was like “break out of the box Lite”. He used the idea of the zoom in or zoom out to talk about ways you can get inspired by just expanding the boundaries of what you normally do. One of the best examples he gave, was to buy magazines that you wouldn’t normally read. That’s advice I follow to this day. Sometimes I find something new and interesting, many times I don’t, but at least it gets my brain working in a different way.I find that the best way to be creative is to create in other venues. So, maybe taking a sculpture class or doing more podcasting or video blogging can inspire you.On Twitter I like to go on the public timeline every so often and just see what new people appear randomly and check out their pages. it’s amazing how many different ecosystems exist on Twitter that have nothing to do with tech bloggers, etc. I am Twitter friends with what I think is the gay community of indianapolis because of that. There’s also a site called random tweets that picks 10 tweets a day from various feed snapshots throughout the day and there are some funny, creative ideas on that one.Roger Van Oech is on Twitter – if you don’t know him, he’s a leader in creative thinking – Michael Hyatt is a CEO that blogs who is on Twitter, maybe reaching out to him will give you ideas for how he handles it.I am guessing your trip to Europe will help too – just an afternoon in an art museum can be inspirational – but the trip will probably also open your eyes to the bigger picture about tech, web 2.0 and its place in the world. I think that would be something good for you to write about.If all else fails, think of A-Rod every October. I believe he chokes so much because he’s afraid he’s going to choke and because he’s trying so hard not to choke. Sometimes you have to take a step back and say, I’m not being creative right now. I’ll take a break.I would not have other people write the blog – what I would suggest you do is interview them yourself and write those up as profiles- that way you’re getting their ideas, but you are still writing.This advice may hurt, it’s advice I should give myself, but Twitter less. Yes, Twitter less frequently. If you can’t do that, go back over your tweets periodically to see what you sent out in a short bursts that could be expanded on for a blog post. I find that the @replies you receive can help you form an idea. I got 2 stand-up bits from Twitter banter.Finally thanks for posting this because it got my creative juices flowing writing the response.

  67. Kyle Mathews

    I just ran across a new aggregator that purposely targets topical areas not already covered by techmeme et. al, Check it out at http://polymeme.com. It’s brand new but looks promising.

  68. LukeG

    3 quarks daily (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/) is terrific.Check out the about page: some of 3qd’s (raving!) fans include Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, David Byrne (sweet!), and Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

  69. jodyreale

    Try joining a community of writers–like the old fashioned, dead trees kind. (I wonder if there are any in NYC? 🙂

  70. jade

    My choices aren’t always clear, and the decisions I make are not always the right ones. There are times when the going gets to dam tough and there are times that I really and truly don’t give a fuck. Often I wonder if love is practical, because if not for love would there be war. Is it worth all the hurt and misplaced hope? I tend to get cynical, mean, and short tempered. Common sense aint as common as you think it is, and those without it should be shipped to an island and left to fend for themselves. I know that’s wrong, but there are too many times that I feel like that. Why? Because all listed above aren’t what’s expected of me.I am expected to know it, have it all, and make it happen. Whether my decisions are right or wrong, these decisions have to benefit either way. It doesn’t matter how fucking tough it get, I gotta keep it together. Love aint practical, but it feel fucking good, it’s worth fighting a war. Being mean, short tempered, and cynical are the side effects of too much common sense.AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHI know that I’m blessed to have all this to complain about, and I appreciate the things that bother me. It gives me purpose. I’m blessed to have choices and decisions. To live, learn, and love. How corny is that? But it is what it is.The purple in the Irises this spring are deeper than a plum. My baby said ‘banana’, it’s her first big word! My seven year old is a true artist, mood swings and all. My five year old is truly a blessing, it makes you feel good to know that you child is kind and loving. My marriage may make it after all. My teenage sons are driving me crazy, literally, but at least they’re alive to do it. My husband and I still have time to help them become men of substance. We know so many in the grave. Like my Daddy say, I got the 5 basics: Love, Money, Shelter, Food, Heat