Fair warning: this post is mostly just a giant quote.
Our social media connections represent a spaghetti bowl of decentralized networks for the distribution of content, but the meat of that content typically resides behind a bit.ly link to a site or a blog.
In other words, Twitter and Facebook and Friendfeed gave us a means of circumventing the broadcast-pipe advantages of mainstream media, but these channels weren’t themselves always the thing being communicated. The best perspective on this change came from Robin Sloan, writing at Snarkmarket in January:
There are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a static value: money in the bank, or trees in the forest. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour, or three-thousand toothpicks a day. Easy. Too easy. But I actually think stock and flow is the master metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:
- Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.
- Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.
I feel like flow is ascendant these days, for obvious reasons—but we neglect stock at our own peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audience and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a treadmill, and you can’t spend all of your time running on the treadmill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: Oh man. I’ve got nothing here.
And this is how we have to understand blogs today. Four years ago they were flow, and for a lot of news organizations, they’re still viewed as little more than low-grade, ephemeral dross. But in the real world of the Web, where we are relentlessly building a new-media economy and culture whether we openly acknowledge it or not, blogs are now the stock.
For what it’s worth, my “back catalog” of posts way way way outdraws new blog posts on just about every single day. You can see over on the Popular Posts page that longer essays tend to dominate too, barring what are probably SEO quirks on some random posts…