Blogging

New Home for the Blog by Nate Westheimer

Before I really learned to code, I always told people I used Wordpress because it gave me a chance to play with code and get my hands dirty with having my own server.

Today, I could spend a little less time wrangling servers and keeping software up to date -- believe me, I have my hands full -- and so I've moved my blog, innonate.com, to Squarespace's amazing new Squarespace 6 platform.

Squarespace 6 is an incredible piece of software. If you weren't at the February 2012 NYTM, you can view their founder and my friend Anthony Casalena demo the software at the 14min mark here. They're still working out some bugs, so it's still in private beta, but as soon as it's available to the public, I recommend you take a look.

~ N

PS: Comments are turned off until Squarespace gets Disqus hooked up to the new platform. They will be back.

PPS: If you read this in my RSS feed, I'm sorry that you got a big dump of old stories as I moved this over!

Why I'm Reading Blogs Again by Nate Westheimer

Since the Spring of 2007, when Twitter hit the techstream, blogs, blogging, and reading blogs became the markings of late adopters. With early adopters, "Follower" count became more important than "Subscribers." The serendipity of stuff you found in the "stream" was sexier than the expected stuff you found in your Reader. And best of all, instead of counting words and paragraphs and trackbacks, we started counting characters and RTs.

RT: @everyone: OMG I cant believe u fit all that awsm in just 140 chars. LOL!

But suddenly, over the past 6 months, I've started reading blogs again.

I've dusted off the Google Reader, installed some apps on my iPhone and iPad, and read -- like it was 2006 or something -- every post of the blogs I subscribe to, every day.

So this is what a flashback feels like.

My move back to reading blogs has come for several reason, and also has brought with it a new set of rules for which content to subscribe to and why it's important. Mostly, it's born from a recent revelation:

Content on Twitter is low-cost to product/low-cost to consume. For most of us, making there content is meaningless, and the fact that you're consuming it means even less.

How can I provide value to a "follower," or be a value-adding follower, when on the consuption end a) we only have to put up with each other 140 characters at a time, and b) we have a pretty great excuse for missing a vast majority of things we say to each other?

That's not what a good relationship looks like!

Meanwhile, as I started looking at my blog reader again, I had a second revelation: Great content/articles for blogs are really, really hard to produce. And, when you read quality people -- like my favorite of late, Andrew Parker, and my previous favorite, before he went "pro", Sam Lessin -- then following those people are real work too. With a blog there's serious investment. People think before they speak. When someone I subscribe to writes something, I know they really cared about what they just did, and it makes me care in return.

On the other side, when someone subscribes to your blog, and reads it regularly, you value that person dearly. That someone takes the time to slog through your thoughts, and that that person does it regularly -- not just because they were "retweeted" a link and happend upon it -- forms a very special bond and sense of respect.

One needs to look no further than Fred Wilson as a great example of this. No one in this space that I know personally has invested more into his blog and his readers than Fred. When you go through the archives it's hard not to admire the dedication, thought, and substance.

But what's really cool is considering what loyal readers of his blog have gotten out of their "subscriber" status. A number of months ago I was telling Fred about some of the cool GWAP (games with a purpose) ideas we were playing around with at AnyClip and right away he thought of a "regular commenter" (Shana Carp) who I should connect with. Looking through the archives of Fred's posts, I know it's not the first time he's done a favor, publicly or privately, for a loyal reader of his. I just have to imagine it comes from an appreciation for what "loyal reader" really means.

So this is why I'm reading blogs again: to get back to an environment where the content I'm reading took serious work from someone, and to force myself to take my role as a subscriber seriously and read content that takes real work to follow.

In fact, I've now gone so far as to unsubscribed from a lot of blogs I liked, just so it fits this model. For instance, professionally produced content means less to me now, solely because it was someone's job to create it, rather than 100% pure passion. (I did keep Caroline McCarthy in my reader though, since 1) she was friend #2 of mine in the NY tech scene 4 years back and 2) because she's a damn good writer). As for Tumblr, I'm now feeding anything I care about into my reader, and anyone who reblogs heavily (that's how I use Tumblr) I've turned off.

While all this may seem a bit uninteresting, strange, or pointless to some people, I'm actually incredibly excited. I've gone from dreading my reader to cherishing every bit of content that gets pushed through there. And while the big win for me is getting smarter via the hard work of people I respect, the cherry on top is that reading great content in inspiring me to get back into the great habit I had in 2007/2008 of writing (what I now look back on and believe was) pretty interesting content.

So here's to late 2010 being the revival of the blog reader, led by a public reinvestment in producing and consuming ultra high quality content by and for those we know, like, and admire.

Going Premium by Nate Westheimer

My dear friend Sam Lessin has gone premium and stopped blogging. It was bound to happen. After a few years of blogging and sharing his amazing insights, Sam had been writing with increased passion about the value of scarce information. Obviously, a blog keeps information from being scarce, and a pay email list puts a premium on it, and so Sam did what any self-respecting theorist would do and decided to walk the walk.

I, for one, have become one of Sam's first subscribers. I'm certain it will be worth it. But I didn't stop there. I've also started my own premium newsletter, called the "innonate insiderly."

In the "Insiderly," I'll be writing things not fit for this blog. For instance, this morning I wrote in detail about a new exercise I've asked my product team to go through. While I may have shared only general information about the exercise in a public blog post, I went in considerable detail on my thinking in the premium email setting. People who pay deserve to know, right?

We'll see how long before my "competition" subscribes.

Until then, see you here in my regular sporadic form, and see you there in my newly sporadic form.

Divergent Innovation by Nate Westheimer

I've been thinking a lot about operational and technological innovation lately, mainly because at AnyClip we're employing both technological and manual efforts to build a rich set of metadata about movies and movie clips.

As we innovate, it's often comforting to seek and find operational innovation, as usually it's right around the corner and you can see results immediately. Yes, if we do that one thing differently we can be X% faster, better, more accurate, etc.

But we have to stop seeking X% improvements, despite how easy it seems to achieve. In a tech startup, our time is best spent around technological innovation. That's our gift, right? We're here to change the game, not eek out a better score.

This is going to be my main focus from here on out. I'll let someone else focus on the incremental.