Essays on Technology and Culture

Project or Person

Frank Chimero posted a great piece where he decided to “double down on his personal site in 2014”. [1] Staring down 2014, and looking at the projects I have attached to my name, Frank has me thinking. Why do we silo the things we do? From a technical standpoint, we have a surplus of specialized silos for photos, pithy remarks, long-form writing, and other things because those silos are easy to build and easier to use. There’s cross-polination, but these services are designed to be best at one thing. To post my pithy remarks on Flickr would be a waste, and a pain.

It might also be an inevitable outcome of Merlin Mann and John Gruber’s “Obsession times Voice” theory. If you’re trying to create the greatest blog about the “third Jawa on the left” in that one scene in Star Wars, posting your favorite muffin recipe isn’t going to fit the format. Likewise, if you’re obsessed with muffins and Jawas, and you want to state your opinions on both, mixing the two isn’t going to make for a great blog. If you’re like a lot of us, you register another domain and now you can post about muffins on one place, Jawas on the other, and cross-pollinate whenever there’s something you think both audiences will like.

But that’s just blogging. It does suck having so much of your stuff scattered around multiple domains and services. It’s hard to keep track of it all. It also makes it harder for people who are interested in you, as a person, to get at everything you’re putting out. That’s why I have a link to Crush On Radio in my navigation bar, despite it being a separate domain. I figure if people like what I’m doing here, they might like what I’m doing over there with my friends. Now, there’s a whole separate set of silos around that project: a Facebook, a Twitter, an email account… It’s the same with Above the Runway, which I’m still building out. A few months ago, I finally registered to provide an easy place where one can find all my public-facing stuff. Still, it’s Sanspoint where I’ve invested most of my public identity online.

For all of us out there making “content”, a big part of the decision to silo out stuff comes down to whether we want to be known for a project, or as a person. Or both. And, let’s be honest with ourselves: we post stuff on the Internet because we want people to see it. We want to be known for something. We can be known as the guy who’s myopically obsessed with one particular Jawa, or with muffins, or the guy who has so many smart things to say about Apple that their C-level executives have read your work. One does not preclude the other. That said, I’m excited to see what a truly personal site looks like in 2014. How do you bring all of those silos and streams under one banner, one roof, and make it work? I’ll be keeping an eye on in the meantime, and thinking about what it means for my silos.

  1. Hat tip to Patrick Rhone  ↩