Posts from blogging

Giving Every Person A Voice

I had the pleasure of watching John Battelle interview Evan Williams to wrap the Web2 conference yesterday. John's a great interviewer and it was a memorable talk. But the thing that stayed with me through the night and was on my mind as I woke up this morning was this part, as transcribed by Matthew Ingram.

Williams — who founded Blogger and later sold it to Google — said that “lowering the barrier to publishing” has been something he has spent most of his career on, and this is because he believes that “the open exchange of information has a positive effect on the world — it’s not all positive, but net-net it is positive.” With Twitter, he said, “we’ve lowered the barriers to publishing almost as far as they can go,” and that is good because if there are “more voices and more ways to find the truth, then the truth will be available to more people — I think this is what the Internet empowers [but] society has not fully realized what this means.”

When I started blogging back in 2003, I would tell everyone how awesome it was. A common refrain back then was "not everyone should have a printing press." I didn't agree then and I don't agree now. Everyone should have a printing press and should use it as often as they see fit. Through things like RSS and Twitter's follow model, we can subscribe to the voices we want to hear regularly. And through things like reblog and retweet, the voices we don't subscribe to can get into our readers, dashboards, and timelines.

If I look back at my core investment thesis over the past five years, it is this single idea, that everyone has a voice on the Internet, that is central to it. And as Ev said, society has not fully realized what this means. But it's getting there, quickly.


Moleskins, Commonplace Books, and Blogs

JLM Our most liked commenter, JLM, gave us his thoughts on moleskins the other day.

In a comment to The Office Matters, JLM shared this wisdom with us:

If you have never used Moleskine notebooks, then you owe it to yourself to go buy some in every size. No conversation, meeting, phone call or set of notes ever fails to be entered into those notebooks.

Using a Moleskine notebook for a year and looking back and seeing what you did is as close to perfection — making love to Catharine Deneuve in her prime kind of perfection (where did that come from?) — as you can get.

Where did that come from JLM? You crack me up.

Anyway, I know a bunch of people who swear by moleskins in the same way that JLM does. They tell me that writing things down helps them remember things. It helps them determine what is important and what is not.

Back in 17th century england, the educated class used a similar technique called commonplacing. A commonplace book was a scrapbook of sorts for things that were deemed important. The philosopher John Locke went so far as to invent an elaborate indexing scheme for his commonplace book that he taught to many others.

I have never kept a moleskine and I had never heard of commonplacing until I read Where Good Ideas Come From. But it occurred to me that I have come to use blogging to accomplish a similar goal. If something is important to me, then I have either blogged it on my tumblog or written about it here on AVC.

And there are at least two huge advantages of doing it this way. First, I can search for stuff using Google instead of John Locke's 17th century indexing scheme. Second, and way more important, is that by doing this publicly, I can get everyone else's opinion and commentary on the thoughts.

In the words of Steven Johnson, "chance favors the connected mind." That's my new motto.