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Foraging & Farming
# The Great Flood Nearly every creative pursuit has changed dramatically over the last century. Computers have enabled sweeping changes in content creation and distribution. Hypertext, the news, photography, short-form video, songs, talk radio have all succumbed to the great flood. We're drowning in content, with technology lowering the barrier to entry in all short-form creative pursuits. (Long-form content is more resistant to flooding. Creating an opera, a book, an album, a movie: these are quixotic pursuits, more resistant to disruption. Rather than a flood, we'll see a transfer of power, from old institutions to new platforms.)
# Foraging and Farming As an individual creator, I've started thinking about creative projects in two phases: foraging & farming. Foraging is when you're just starting out: surveying the land, collecting ideas, prototyping. It's the fun part of the process - it feels like play. Farming is when you've found something good, and you're trying to extract as much value as you can from the thing. It's the boring part of the process - it feels like work. Foraging and farming require different energy. Weekends put me in a foraging mood. But when I try to farm, I often find myself feeling drained. Farming moods are rare for me - usually they happen on weekday evenings, after a non-exhausting day at work. (The foraging & farming concept also applies to consumption. Browsing Twitter is foraging. Reading a book is farming.) I try to remind myself that not all ideas need to be farmed. Not everything I create needs to be polished to death or marketed until wildly successful. Some projects should be foraged for longer, or foraged forever. Some ideas deserve to be carefully gardened, not farmed. In business, they have a different name for the same concept: "explore and exploit". There's something sickeningly colonial about that word choice. Stay on your damn boat. Keep exploring. Diverge, never converge.
tweet where this essay started
"we need to adopt a broader view of what it will take to fix the brokenness of the social web. That will require challenging the logic of today’s platforms—and first and foremost challenging the very concept of megascale as a way that humans gather .... We need people who dismantle these notions by building alternatives. And we need enough people to care about these other alternatives to break the spell of venture capital and mass attention that fuels megascale and creates fatalism about the web as it is now"
Part 2? Most platforms promote farming. The recipe for success on the internet is simple: find content that works, and pump out as much of it as you can before the trend/algorithm forgets about you.
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