Fred Wilson has a post this morning referencing my note about the difference between blogging on a platform like Medium and maintaining a personal blog: namely, that you control the domain and the look and feel. But he also touches on something else when he writes this:
When I started blogging here at AVC, I would write about everything and anything. Then, slowly but surely, it became all about tech and startups and VC. It is still pretty much that way, but I feel like I’m heading back a bit to the personal blog where I can talk about anything that I care about
When I do write for Medium, I think I’m writing for a specific audience: mostly young professionals who work in the tech industry. That will probably change as Medium expands and develops a larger readership. There are of course fewer people reading here, and if there is a specific audience, it’s a lot broader and largely composed of people who know me in capacities outside of the tech industry. But regardless, I don’t have to write as narrowly as I do when I publish in a regular media outlet. The upside of that for me is that I don’t feel compelled to stick to a particular topic. I can write about, as Fred put it, “anything I care about.”
When I was a kid, seven or eight years old or thereabouts, I used to make copious lists of things I liked and didn’t like. I don’t remember why. I think some of it was about asserting identity and defining myself by those likes and dislikes. I remembered it a few months ago when I was skimming Susan Sontag’s notebooks and found an entry from February of 1977 where she did exactly the same thing as an adult. A sample:
Things I like: ivory, sweaters, architectural drawings, urinating, pizza (the Roman bread), staying in hotels, paper clips, the color blue, leather belts, making lists, Wagon-Lits, paying bills, caves, watching ice-skating, asking questions, taking taxis, Benin art, green apples, office furniture, Jews, eucalyptus trees, pen knives, aphorisms, hands.
Things I dislike: Television, baked beans, hirsute men, paperback books, standing, card games, dirty or disorderly apartments, flat pillows, being in the sun, Ezra Pound, freckles, violence in movies, having drops put in my eyes, meatloaf, painted nails, suicide, licking envelopes, ketchup, traversins [“bolsters”], nose drops, Coca-Cola, alcoholics, taking photographs.
Sontag would have been about 44 when she wrote that. (I too like the color blue and dislike baked beans, but I had to Google to find out what a traversin is, and I must confess: I am ambivalent.)
A similar set of lists could have probably been compiled from reading my personal blog years ago and I imagine the likes would have included the Ukrainian punk band Gogol Bordello, Christopher Hitchens (before he turned hawkish on Iraq), Brass Eye, the Bulgarian Bar on Canal & Broadway, bourbon, game theory, blogging, the Arms & Armor room at the Met, Duke basketball, James Bond movies.
Thirteen years later, the list is probably a bit different. (Add: the novels of Edward St. Aubyn, super-spicy Thai street food, Yes, Minister, pop neurology… ) That said, I did recently drag my friend Megan McCarthy through the Arms & Armor room specifically to see an exhibit about Bashford Dean, who was the original curator and is pictured here, looking like the proprietor of a Bushwick artisanal cocktail bar:
I still love the Arms & Armor room.
But I look forward to talking about interests here that are outside of my usual writerly purview, which tends to be tech/media/finance.