Information con­sump­tion also has a con­sump­tion chain, just like food does. Most news, for instance, comes from a set of facts on the ground, that get processed, and processed and processed again before it ends up on your tele­vi­sion set boiled down into chunks for you to con­sume. But it also gets filled with addi­tives— expert opin­ion, analy­sis, visu­al­iza­tions, you name it— before it gets to you. If this was food, a vegan would want none of it. They’d head straight to the data, to the source, to the facts, and try and get as much of that addi­tive busi­ness out of their way.

Clay Johnson — Why Infovegan. via Daniel.

A reader is for engag­ing with infor­ma­tion; it’s a tool for con­sum­ing, man­ag­ing, and using knowl­edge. In addi­tion to pre­sent­ing new infor­ma­tion to con­sume, I also want it to pay atten­tion to, infer insights from, and make acces­si­ble in an ever­green mat­ter what I’ve already read. For me, this presents the pin­na­cle of per­sonal infor­ma­tion man­age­ment — an intel­li­gent tool that can rein­force what I already know and help guide me towards what I need to know.

Daniel Bachhuber — “Phone” is to the iPhone as “RSS reader” is to ?.

Scaling my long-form writing

Earlier Daniel asked me about start­ing a blog cir­cle of sorts to help each other work on longer form writ­ing that requires research, edit­ing, and more care­ful thought. I think it’s a great idea. There’s a few things that I’d love to explore in more depth here that I don’t have a good struc­ture in place for right now.

A ben­e­fit to attend­ing a lib­eral arts school like Whitman was the sheer amount of writ­ing I did every semes­ter. Many classes required 4 papers a semes­ter each of 5–7 pages. It meant I was writ­ing some­thing almost every week.

Since grad­u­at­ing the fre­quency of writ­ing I’ve done has gone up dras­ti­cally. Whether it’s on this blog or in my work at Automattic I’m writ­ing far more and in far more var­ied con­texts than I ever have before. That’s fun. What I’m not doing is the type of sus­tained, long-form writ­ing that causes me to dig deeper and push my abil­i­ties. That’s also fun but is more dif­fi­cult to do on a blog than as part of coursework.

There’s a few ideas that have been kick­ing around in my head that may fit for get­ting back into the swing of things with research and in-depth writing.

First, I’ve been think­ing more about how news orga­ni­za­tions need to think of them­selves as craft­ing a prod­uct. It’s some­thing I’ve writ­ten about before and is some­thing I’d love to dive more deeply into. There could be an inter­est­ing line to trace here between the his­tory of news pub­li­ca­tions and the growth of tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies that more read­ily grok what it means to cre­ate a product.

Second, it’d be great to spend more time research­ing how WordPress can play a role in a rebooted school sys­tem. I think our cur­rent sys­tem of school­ing is on its way out. Something may take its place and I think WordPress can, and in many cases prob­a­bly is, play­ing a role here. Collecting those sto­ries and the­o­riz­ing a bit about what a more sus­tain­able school sys­tem could look like would be fun.

We’ll see how this goes. It’d be a blast to get back into writ­ing pieces longer than 500 words.

Improve software by using it

Daniel recently moved his site to WordPress.com and had this to say in the com­ments of his announce­ment post:

I want WP.com to be good enough that I can sin­cerely rec­om­mend it to my friends and fam­ily, but in some cases WP.org has bet­ter fea­tures, flex­i­bil­ity, etc. There’s still work to be done; actu­ally using our soft­ware is the best way to dis­cover what needs to be done.

This is why every devel­oper of a pub­lish­ing tool must be a con­sis­tent and active user of the soft­ware. The best way to learn how to improve some­thing is by using it regularly.

My site will be mov­ing back over there hope­fully next week. I just need to carve out an hour or two to cus­tomize a theme a bit and get all the con­tent moved over properly.