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Summary:

There’s this idea wandering around the web that less is better: less work, generally, and less writing and blogging and especially less press release rehashing. But more and faster conversation about technology means more chances for interesting ideas and useful analysis to emerge. There’s certainly a […]

There’s this idea wandering around the web that less is better: less work, generally, and less writing and blogging and especially less press release rehashing. But more and faster conversation about technology means more chances for interesting ideas and useful analysis to emerge. There’s certainly a place for deep thought, but the web mind can work at many speeds — fast, slow and in between.

Marketing consultant and blogger Brian Oberkirch suggests that tech blogging happens too fast, without enough thought, and that a decrease in ad spending could have a helpful effect:

A minor correction in the ad market might be the best thing to happen to blogging. Maybe writers would turn away from becoming page mills and boring the crap out of us, and instead, will turn back to value, passion, thinking things through, making connections previously unseen.

Forrester blogger Josh Bernoff recently voiced a similar criticism:

When it comes to blogging, faster is often perceived to be better. GigaOm and TechCrunch are all over the trends, covering the same announcements, often within minutes of each other.

I’m not convinced, however, that better ideas emerge by holding back on them, deeply thinking them, and polishing them until they’re just right. With the global Internet mind, offering more tentative and provisional ideas and doing it faster may be a better strategy than sitting in an isolation chamber, devoid of feedback.

Writing coach Angela Booth tells writers they should write more, not less:

Many years ago, I wanted to be a “good” writer. So I wrote less. I became obsessive about revision — polishing the life out of my writing. It finally dawned on me that “good” doesn’t mean slow. In fact the faster I wrote (which was my natural inclination anyway), the more quality I could winnow from the chaff.

There’s a parallel that can be drawn with tech blogging — not just that individual bloggers become better writers as they write more, but that the ideas we come up with as a community get better as they are batted about the blogosphere.

If all tech blogs did was rewrite press releases, they would add little to the evolving understanding of technology. What they do instead is consistently introduce timely information and quick analysis into an ongoing conversation. While it’s not a perfect approach, it can contribute to an incremental growth in understanding — especially when that new information is mixed and mashed up by other writers working at different paces and with knowledge of other spheres.

Richard Ogle in his book “Smart World” proposes that the world of ideas thinks for itself. Blogs can radically accelerate that process by encouraging a much broader range of people to participate, speeding up the flows of information and allowing connections to be made across a range of topics. On the web, less is definitely not more.

  1. Seems like your point is only true if the fast writing blogger takes the time to synthesize the feedback / comments and other postings to arrive at revised or new conclusions. Put differently, how do you follow the thread as it hops from blog to blog if there’s no consistent follow-up / review. Who are these magical “other writers working at different paces and with knowledge of other spheres?”

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  2. Most bloggers working at any pace pay some attention to what commenters and other bloggers (and journalists and analysts etc. etc.) are saying. Do they read everything and synthesize everything? No, no one can do that.

    The power of distributed thinking — the smart world — is that no one person does it alone. But many slow, deep thinkers rely on fast availability of news and quick analysis, just as the quick news is best when it incorporates thought moving at other speeds and produced at different volumes.

    “magical” other writers? Other bloggers, analysts, journalists, writers, commenters, and even PR people and company executives. It’s not magic.

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  3. I differentiate Techcrunch from RWW – one writes first and the other thinks offering analysis rather than just being first. Take the technorati story today – TC say its has changed its UI.

    Often the simple test of a blog post is to ask so what. Seeing the wood from the trees is an art only able to the few who both have a deep technical and business understanding of the implications.

    Just saying look another tree because you are at point is (excuse the pun) pointless. I’d love to hear Arrington’s views on how APML combined with Openid will change the advertising landscape or how HTML5 differs from XHTML2 and what impact that will have on social blogging but I go to people like Brian Oberkirch, Chris Messina, Danny Ayres, Alex Iskold and many others for that thought insight.

    Sp yes less is more if it means cutting down the pointless noise and PR lapdog mentality for some personal insight after careful consideration which does take time.

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  4. Anne, I think it’s hard to argue against the fact that for MOST bloggers, if they don’t write about something VERY quickly after a high profile media outlet or blogger has written about the topic, it’s very hard for them to get much attention. Which leads to lots of people regurgitating the same facts and very similar light analysis on topics. A lot of the better thought out pieces never make it to places like Techmeme because they are not anchored to something that top bloggers are currently writing about – creating a self-reinforcing effect of lots of bloggers writing very light content about the same set of topics. I wrote about this a while back (http://www.emaildashboard.com/2007/10/a-list-blogger-.html), but outside of subscribers to my blog, few other people likely saw it… When it comes to blogging attention, speed often trumps insight and accuracy.

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  5. Deva: I do think there are problems with the current situation, like everyone’s too interconnected and they don’t pay attention to other areas of thought. That makes it stagnant sometimes. And it seems harder now for people to have their ideas heard.

    However, there’s plenty of conversation that goes on outside techmeme or beyond the so-called a-list blogs. I blogged for a long time at a slower pace and found plenty of opportunities to participate in the conversation like that (I still do, on my personal blog).

    It may be true that there is a lot of light analysis without much thought and perhaps too much regurgitation. But quick analysis isn’t necessarily light, and restating something in a slightly different way can sometimes be just the spark that’s needed for a new way to look at things.

    Better thought and insight doesn’t happen just with one person sitting around coming up with it after a long time either — part of my point is that the rapid fire back and forth with feedback is a thought process of its own. But it’s distributed across many people.

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  6. I agree that writers should write as often as possible. I do not want Gigaom to stop disseminating quick information, announcements and news. I rely on this blog for a lot of such information.

    But those criticizing copy-paste-quick type bloggers do have a point. If people like Om Malik deliberately and strictly take a few hours off every week to meditate on the bigger picture emerging the tech world, make the deeper connections and write about those, everybody will benefit. What’s more, that will also make their quick posts so much better!

    Something to think about. Hope Om sees this comment.

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  7. Just want to add that for an individual writer as well as a blog to be truly effective and add value, there must be a mix of both: quick posts as well as deeper analytical posts. The two ways of doing things have a positive effect on each other, creating a synergistic feedback loop.

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  8. What an interesting thread. In the early days it was thoughtful opinion that mattered, then the speed became part of the blogging mix. I am not sure there are either/or situations.

    Most of us who blog about technology have a different mental rhythm. Sure sometimes you need to blog fast and let the audience educate you. Sometimes you need to take some time off and meditate.

    I think what really matters is knowing your readers and your community. Six years of writing have taught me that one little fact of life.

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  9. @ Libran Lover,

    First of all thank you for all your nice comments, and reading us. Specifically about this part of your comment, “Om Malik deliberately and strictly take a few hours off every week to meditate on the bigger picture emerging the tech world” I wonder if my posts on Verizon Open, and Google Infrastructure are the kind of posts you had in mind in terms of expectations.

    Thankfully, my team has basically made it mandatory for me to take two days off a week to think. Hopefully, results will start to show over next few weeks :-)

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  10. Agree its good to have a mix of “real time” on the fly comments about something plus some deep thought pieces. For the real time stuff imho what is required is to add value – inject a new angle or cross connect to something else that is relevant.

    Sometimes I want to do a quick sketch, sometimes a painting, sometimes a few doodles – you have to follow what you want to do, as to tie yourself to rote makes it a chore, not fun. And imho when you stop having fun, your community stops having fun.

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