Welcome to my street corner. I recently listened to a speech by Eben Moglen called “Freedom and the Future of the Net: Why We Win.” It’s good stuff. Very interesting. I unfortunately haven’t been able to find a transcript of it, but as a value-added service to the MTF community, I transcribed this, where he is discussing how the “artificially large person” (e.g. Christina Aguilera) is manufactured for the purpose of selling things, and:
But all of this depends upon denial. Exclusion. You can’t have it unless you pay. And it’s not actually the best way if you are a musician, to distribute music, to refuse to let people have it. It’s not actually the best way if you are a writer, to get read, to refuse to let people read. The creators by and large want straightforwardly — not surprisingly — a low friction mechanism for giving what they make to people who may want it. And they would like to get paid for that when people like what they make. Where possible, which isn’t always possible, musicians would be very happy busking on a street corner where there are six billion people. Which they now have. In the twenty-first century, there will be no such thing as an unpublished poet, which is good, because in the twentieth century there was damn near no such thing as a published poet.
– Eben Moglen, Freedom and the Future of the Net: Why We Win
(mp3 from punkcast.com)
I think he said “busting on a street corner,” although that’s not a familiar expression to me. It’s easy to take from context that he means jamming or performing. (Correction! Almost certainly busking instead of busting.)
This snippet isn’t central to the speech, but it provided the image that inspired this post. Moglen tells it well and creates lots of pictures and ideas in my head. Here we are with this amazing world network where we can all talk to one another. We don’t need someone with a printing press in order to get our words out, and we don’t need someone with deep pockets to create and distribute physical media for music anymore.
My Street Corner
So here I am on my street corner. I’m a scribbler instead of a musician, so I have a stack of pamphlets to push in to the hands of anyone who will take them. It is great to have the potential for millions and billions of people to read my little screeds, but it’s not so easy to establish myself on a busy corner. (And if I did, hoo boy, can you imagine the mess from millions of people throwing the piece of paper to the ground as they walk away?) My out-of-the-way corner begins with the few people I know personally whom I can coerce in to walking by and then humor me by saying, “It looks really nice.” And then, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but it looks nice.”
Another strategy is to hang out by more popular street corners and shout at the crowds gathered there and hope a few people will turn and notice. One corner like this is Free Software Magazine, a site with a good readership and interesting articles about the Free Software Movement. I’ve posted a few comments there with a link back to MTF and have been pleasantly surprised that many people take the time to visit my squalid little corner of the Net. (I’m sure because my thoughtful and cogent remarks make them hungry for more.) If you are one of those people or if you found me by some other comment or link (although Google sadly tells me that no one is linking to me yet), thank you for stopping by. You may notice I don’t have a lot of content yet and I’m not posting frequently. It may even appear that I’m just ponderously ruminating on nothing in particular. Maybe as if I’m avoiding getting to the meat of my topic. Well, let’s talk about that.
Posting Frequency and Regularity
If you read blogs and other sites that host articles, you know they vary widely in how often new stuff is added. Setting aside the obvious factor of subject interest and writing quality, I think one of the key factors for regular readership of these sites is frequency and regularity of posting. I don’t think people have to post everyday — although that is appealing to my own OCD tendencies where I’m always wanting to reload to see if there’s anything new — but I think it’s important to post regularly. Once a week works ok for me. If someone adds something new at least once a week, I’ll keep returning if I like it.
There are other sites where I like the content but they are so irregular that I eventually drop them from my bookmarks and feeds because even I’m not that obsessive to want to keep spending time keeping track of them when things rarely happen. I realize the idea of syndication and feed readers is that you don’t have to keep track of them so closely, but they’re still in my list and I want a list that is manageable. (And maybe I need to look at other ways of keeping track of my feeds. I use the Sage extension for Firefox and really like it, but I wish there was a way to see in the list if there are new articles before clicking on the feed and waiting a second or two for it to load.)
So in these early just-getting-started days, I’m mainly trying to establish a regular writing rhythm. Something sustainable. My goal with Moving to Freedom is to post at least once a week. Posting every day requires a lot of time and I don’t want to feel pressured to maintain that pace if I have other things going on. Of course there is danger that if I keep writing these rambling navel-gazing kinds of posts that I won’t actually attract a vast and devoted audience.
(I suppose it’s also possible I could say the same amount of nothing in shorter daily entries.)
Keep reading beneath the fold for more, including an actual mention of free software…