Anything I Care About

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 Iโ€™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 neurologyโ€ฆ ) 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:

Bashford Dean
Bashford Dean

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.

  • davealevine

    Love the dialogue and had no idea a simple rec to post on Medium would spark it ๐Ÿ™‚

    One thing that jumps out in your post is that you think of your audience on Medium as being “young and tech,” which is I’m sure the case if we look at their demographic in that narrow lens.

    But I wonder, is that right? For instance this post has been retweeted on Twitter across a wide variety of accounts (including mine) which include folks of all kinds of backgrounds. My mom, for instance, doesn’t fit into either of those categories :-).

    I’m totally in agreement that moving away from traditional old-media blogging outlets is the right call – there people are using an old-model to generate “eyeballs and clicks” for an old-way of thinking about the world, which is purely advertising based.

    But it could be the case that a platform like Medium, centered around content, produces a new way to connect with people across new categories, similar to how we do on Twitter.

    Clearly these thoughts are a little rough so thx for hearing them out and either way please keep writing and sharing nuggets like these.

    One last plug for the concept of medium (or my ideal version of it :-):

    As you say, your interests are way more diverse than whatever categories we put ourselves in – young / tech / media / finance – whatnot. I think we all are!

    The concept of having a place where various kinds of interests can intersect around shared ideas seems like it would be the kind of place where folks would discover things like Bashford Dean, and maybe you’d find stuff tangential to that.

    At base, I think this struggle is a deeper one about the way we construct social networks and identity, but that’s another topic.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Yeah, I’m thinking more about the core audience. That’s not to say that there are no non-tech people reading Medium; they are. But I think the core is still driven by the fact that most of the people getting early beta invites were tech industry people by virtue of connections to the Medium team and the fact that those people are likely to be early adopters.

    That said, I still plan to write for and on Medium here and there. But probably not about Bashford Dean, or spicy food or Ukrainian punk cabaret bands.

    • davealevine

      ๐Ÿ™‚ Makes sense.

      Looking forward to hearing of whatever you share!

  • “mostly young professionals who work in the tech industry.”… Kinda reminds me of the blogosphere, back when we met, 2003 or so ๐Ÿ˜€