It feels good to be back.
For the sake of my all-too-fragile ego, I'm going to assume many of you noticed I haven't been blogging. In fact, I stepped away from the blogosphere for the entire month of August. What started as simply being a hiatus born out of a lot of real-world developments (more on these later); turned into a cathartic exercise in self denial.
My Problems with the Blogosphere
Truth is, I began to lose my passion for all things blog-related. Writing the blog started to feel more like a job than a way to stretch my intellectual muscles in creative ways. I began to fret that the days I wasn't able to pen something, I had somehow let down my subscribers (many of which are friends and colleagues of some sort). Once I realized I had over 50 half-written blarticles, it just became untenable. But my self-imposed stresses of writing the blog were matched equally by my loss of appreciation for those blogs I was reading.
At the end of July, I had over 600 active feeds coming into my reader. At some point, the collective value of the information began to be superseded by the feeling of noise, redundancy and rhetoric. It seemed like I was reading 50 people's opinions on the credit crunch; and as a result, none felt original. The great voices within the blogosphere were being drowned by the mundane. In the tech world, I began to feel like I was reading the same stories in ten different forms. There are great aggregation blogs and sites which cast a pretty wide net; so why have many of those individual blogs also coming into my reader?
Solution #1: Culling the Wheat from the Chaff
As I type this, I now have 105 blogs in my Google Reader. Down from well over 600. The process was surprisingly easy; and I can't recommend enough the value of pruning your own blogroll. Here were my steps:
- Walk away for 30 days -- Does absence make the heart grow fonder? I was going to find out.
- Remove any blog I couldn't remember -- There were blogs in my reader I simply couldn't remember anything about upon my return; they were the first to get the axe
- Remove any "dead" blog -- Some bloggers just stop blogging (some of you may have put me into that category by now :) ). So anyone that hadn't posted at least once in the last three months is gone [with one exception, Neil!]
- Remove most aggregation/list blogs -- We live in a long tail world. I'm all for smart people calling my attention to things I might have otherwise missed. But enough already with list blogs. I have my own del.icio.us account. I have my own Technorati favorites. I use my own aggregation tools. So if a person's blog was largely for linking to other people's stuff; it's gone.
- Remove Valleywag, TechCrunch, Engadget, Scoble -- Given their readerships, I somehow think they'll manage to survive. But the truth is, it's been a long time since I felt I was getting incremental value for the time spent reading stuff that wasn't germane to me.
- Remove 80% of the financial/investing blogs -- For some reason, I've found far less satisfaction reading about what other investors are doing/thinking/saying than I do reading about what other technologists are up to.
What's left you might ask?
- The Enterprise Irregulars -- The vast majority of my fellow EIs made the cut; and if there's anything I most regret over the last month it's the lessened frequency of my interaction with all of them both personally and through our blogs
- Techmeme -- For my needs, Techmeme is the king of aggregation. Gabe hits on the things I care most about; and I never feel like I'm missing out on a major tech story by visiting the Meme a few times a day
- TechDirt -- Mike and his team are SMART, thoughtful and hard-working people. For my money, TechDirt + Techmeme are basically the perfect daily infusion of what's relevant in the tech landscape
- SeekingAlpha Alerts -- SeekingAlpha is an incredibly ambitious financial aggregation service that's doing exceptionally well. I've come to know David Jackson (I was a SeekingAlpha contributor in their early days) and think he's building something terrific. SA provides me the tools to get news from the blogosphere that I want, and nothing else. As a stock-specific investor, this is far more valuable to me than the myriad trading oriented blogs I see on so many people's "best of" lists
- Investment Blogs: Roger, Mish, DealBook, Barry, Ed, AllAboutAlpha, Jeff Matthews -- That's the sum total of my investment-focused blogroll
- VC Blogs: Brad, Fred Wilson, AskTheVC, Ed Sim, Peter Rip, Paul K -- A lot of VCs used to be on this list, very few remain
- Technology Blogs: There are really too many to name here, but they include the ZDNet guys, Eric Savitz at Barrons, Bill Burnham, Sandhill, Om, Marc, Michael, Don, and Ben to name a select few.
Solution #2: Enjoying the Conversation
If I'm to believe my Feedburner statistics, I actually added almost 300 new readers over the five+ weeks I wasn't blogging. I'm guessing that means the key to my cracking the Technorati Top 100 would be to extend my sabbatical for another 17.3 years. :) The point being, seeing that made me remember that my sole reason for blogging is to extend the conversation. I could care less if 50 or 50,000 people read any given post, as long as it a) gets me thinking, b) fosters discussion among my friends and colleagues, and c) invites one or two new people into my sphere of influence that I might never have met otherwise. In 18 months blogging, I've met at least 100 people that I would probably never have otherwise. If I can come away with another 100 over the next 18 months, I've hit the lottery.
But with that realization comes my own "new" self-imposed blogging rules:
- Sometimes I'm going to have a lot to say
- Sometimes I'm going to have very little to say
- Sometimes I'm not going to have anything to say
If there's a subject you want my opinion on, there are ways to approach me. Email always works, or you can leave a comment on my blog, or best yet, you can offer to say hello the next time we're at the same venue.
Alright folks, that's all for now. I'm looking forward to catching up with you all. Although the summer is quiet in many respects, the technology and investing worlds certainly didn't slow down. Time to jump back into the fray and see how my views alter the equation.