Rob Cobb

More Blogs, Please

Updated Jan 19, 2019
  1. Personal writing update
  2. Why read more blogs
  3. Why you should blog (more)

Personal Writing Update

I’ve been trying to write more.

Some of it has been happening!

  • I have been pretty good about capturing ideas on my phone when they strike me
  • I’ve got a habit of reviewing those notes, categorizing and connecting them into larger ideas.

I am still a little shy about hitting the publish button, but I’m trying to work on that.

Not that many people will read this blog. Compared to some of the larger media outlets, which have readership in the millions for any given article, any post of mine that hits triple digits is a win.

That’s okay! It actually takes a lot of the pressure off for blogging, which ought to mean that I can publish half-baked ideas (see above, still shy/perfectionist about hitting publish).

I’m writing for friends and acquaintances, for the sake of striking up conversations and capturing some of the ideas that I’ve discussed here and there.

I’m also writing for myself. Writing is an organizing tool for the mind. Since I might have a post in mind, instead of mindlessly consuming content, I am looking for patterns and trends. I can think through ideas with writing, and capture fleeting thoughts that I would otherwise forget forever. Reviewing old writing reminds me of what held my interest in the past, and oddly helps me feel more myself.

I’ve also been reading a lot of blogs (See the recently updated blogroll.)I like to think of this as supporting local organic content farms with my media diet. More importantly, though, most of the cool thinking is not done in newspapers.

Why read more blogs

How much of your media diet is blogs (vs. facebook feed / twitter / news outlets / youtube / netflix etc.)? Probably not enough!

Blogs are a playground of ideas. A few key advantages:

  • more back and forth with readers
  • not caught up in the news cycle, so can be long term focused
  • allow length, depth, and exploration better than other media
  • linked and networked by nature - ideas are connected to their sources
  • you can engage deeply or shallowly as a reader
  • readers are active instead of passive
  • commenters political identities aren’t already activated (relative to news, social media)

I’ve been on this hobby-horse for a long time, but it seems ripe for talking through again.

The long tail of smart folks thinking about and writing about interesting things is where a ton of action is! Its fun because you can be part of it pretty easily.

Reading a New York Times or Washington Post article feels alienating. You can’t realistically engage with the author, since there are way more readers than writers at that scale. NYT has a 130 million monthly readers, so if only 1% read whatever opinion column, that’s still more than a million other commenters to compete with. You can share the link with your friends and discuss it, but the gatekeepers still mean that you are always reacting to ideas and facts instead of initiating.

With blogs, you can take a more active stance towards the material you consume.

  • You can be more active in choosing what your media diet consists of
  • You can realistically engage with the author and a reading community
  • You can participate by writing yourself!

Why you should blog (more)

I listed some benefits I get from blogging above. I want to reiterate them here and go a little deeper into counters to some of the possible objections.

Benefits of blogging

  • Fame
  • Wealth
  • Great conversations with your friends
  • Think more sharply
  • Remember things that you learn or think about
  • Sense of agency from engaging (rather than passively consuming)
  • Joy and pride in creativity

Potential Objection 1: I don’t have anything to contribute

The distance between you and smart thoughts about something is not that far. (You probably have smart thoughts already!)

So long as you choose something that

  • is not news
  • is not popular
  • is not at the forefront of science / human knowledge

You can be among the best in the world relatively quickly.

Its sometimes tricky to get a sense of the landscape of some topic - any time you notice that, it’s an opportunity to write a “overview of the landscape of topic Y: a beginner’s perspective” post. This is hugely valuable and what’s more, immensely popular and whats even more, gets engagement from the brightest stars in that topic!. Being a beginner is a unique opportunity, because experts forget what is actually hard about getting started, and you’ve still got the fresh perspective.

There are a ton of topics out there. From hobbies to niche academic interests to industries to food to cities to games to relationships. If you’ve got a hobby that you’ve been into for more than a year, you’re probably relatively expert to most people you know. That means your thoughts are probably interesting to a wide audience, and you publish them!

Potential Objection 2: I don’t have time

This one is usually the implicit reason that people don’t blog. There’s always chores or distractions, so when do you find the time to actually write?

I suffer from this one a lot. Some of the things that have been helping:

  • have a note capturing app you like on your phone. Use it anytime you have a little thought
  • save links to things you read
  • take notes as you read or listen to podcasts and audiobooks
  • have a way to move your phone notes to a real word processor to turn into posts
  • carve out regular (weekly has worked for me) time to go through the week’s notes
  • writing what I am interested at any given moment, not feeling tied to the post that I had ‘planned on writing’
  • telling friends that I am planning on blogging and committing to it, for social accountability

Potential Objection 3: I don’t know how to set up my blog the way I want it

There are really good options out there. Wordpress is a pretty solid platform. Medium is pretty easy to get started. I will help you get set up on either of these or on another *fancy* blog setup if that’s actually helpful motivation for blogging more.

If you’re a coder, my blog setup is on github, and I love it. check it out

Potential Objection 4: I am not good at writing / speling / editing

It really doesn’t matter that much. You’re mostly writing for your friends on the internet, and they will still love you if you spell things worng. I’m happy to read over and edit anything (if that’s helpful).

You also get better at this if you keep at it. It’s another benefit of blogging.

Wrapping Up

I want you to blog, and I want you to send me a link to what you write. I will read it! If you want, I’ll send you thoughts! I’ll even add you to the hall of fame my blogroll

🤓😽 Rob Cobb
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