This following discussion, "Medium vs. The Self-Hosted Blog," occurred June 29 between 10:18-10:28 AM in the "ATX Built" Slack. Some dialogue was edited to protect the innocent from bad grammar.
Professor Plum: Has Medium killed the self-hosted blog? Does publishing on Medium make writers appear more "legit" (especially if you're not web-famous like Adactio or Daring Fireball)? Is there any advantage to hosting your blog on a personal site?
Professor Plum: What if you're an agency/business? Does anyone worry that their content (or at least URLs) might be gone if Medium calls it quits one day? I like owning my content, but it's hard to beat the Medium platform for writing and publishing.
Mrs. Peacock: I think it's a great place for posting essays and thoughts. Just post to your blog first and cross-post to Medium. Too bad Mrs. White isn't on here, her Medium post has 7000 views today!
Mrs. Scarlett: Just invited Mrs. White, tell her to check her email.
Professor Plum: I was thinking about that approach as well. I do like the idea of having posts on my site so that places that I'm interested in working at can see my work and writing in the same place.
Mrs. Peacock: I also think it's great for non-web famous people. Your posts look exactly the same as everyone else's. If you write something worthwhile, people will respond.
Col. Mustard: Medium is awesome for discovery. And you can still "own" your content.
Miss Scarlett: Professor, I am totally a fan of cross-posting b/n your blog and medium. Medium gives you exposure outside your circle, but I like the idea of still "owning" my writing, so to speak, and keeping it on my blog.
Col. Mustard: Lots of people publish both places similar to Linkedin.
Mrs. White: Hello.
Mr. Green: I'll often post on my site, and then post to Medium. Then link to the Medium post with a "Recommend this article on Medium" type blurb somewhere on my site's version.
Professor Plum: So I guess the answer is just do both.
Miss Scarlett: Also, from the perspective of someone Googling you, if they go to my site, I want them to stay there and view my writing without making them leave to Medium.
Mr. Green: But Medium has offered me far more reach every single time than my site ever has.
Professor Plum: Nice. They do a good job with the daily read emails.
Mr. Green: Yeah, they do. One of the only of its kind that I actually insist on looking through daily without archiving right away, lol
Mrs. White: I would definitely go for Medium. I am an indie web booster, and all, of course post it on your own site too but the readers are on Medium. There are lots of them, and If you get a boost by getting recommended by someone, it can be huge.
Col. Mustard: /gliphy huge
The last time I saw Bruce, he was bent over an old truck engine, taking a turn at a rusted lug nut. The garage was as cold as a meat locker, but that didn't stop the guys. They had a refuge from the dinner party, a mechanical project, country music, and a case of beer. By the time I got out there, half of the beer was gone, and most of the guys had worked up enough sweat to shed their coats.
Bruce cranked on the lug nut hard enough to cause the truck to move. His grip slipped, the wrench fell to the floor with a clang, and he came up with chunks of his knuckles freshly removed. Despite his best attempts, the engine won that night. With blood running down his hand, Bruce grabbed a fresh beer, opened it up, and took a swig while staring down his foe.
He surrendered the battle as he told his son-in-law that he'd have to take the truck into a garage with a lift where they could get to the problematic part directly. The truck hood was closed, and tools put away. We stayed out there a bit longer and talked about life and family in "these parts," near the border of Kansas and Missouri. Not much longer we had to say our goodbyes and return home.
For most of his life, Bruce drove a truck around the country. In the beginning, he worked for himself with his company name on the side of his rig. Towards the end of his career, his truck was adorned with a familiar big box store logo. I always enjoyed talking to Bruce about his job because talking to him was like taking several road trips. He was a living Rand McNally and knew every Interstate and highway for eight-hundred miles in every direction. Exit numbers were as familiar to him as stars are to an astronomer.
Just a few months ago, within the same week of losing a daughter to a decades-long battle with cancer, Bruce learned that he was inflicted with the same poison. Stage four, inoperable and maybe, but not likely, treatable, he was told that his time was limiteda year, maybe longer.
Unfortunately, Bruce didn't make it that far. It was one of the few, if not the only trip he did not complete. Sometime in the night Bruce Voigts (father, brother, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather) found his last exit and turned the wheel to the right. While I am sad that I will not be able to hear another story about his time on the road, I am glad that Bruce did not suffer for very long.
My longer-than-expected, un-intended, un-paid, dumb "sabbatical" is finally at an end. The last nine months have been exhilarating, fun, stressful, depressing, eventful, and then non-eventful. I spent more time talking to cats than any grown man should. I'm glad it's over.
I traveled more than I thought I would which led to making new friends and reconnecting with a few people I haven't talked to in years. I also got to spend more time with family than I have in a while. Looking back, things were not as horrible as they felt at the time, and I'm incredibly lucky to have had those opportunities.
Airbag signed two clients in 2015, which means I'll be able to celebrate the company's ten-year anniversary (soon and in full-on Storey Style). Boy, talk about your highs-and-lows...I don't think I'll bother putting together a Keynote deck for that party. I intend to write more about this, but for now, let's get to some great news.
Next week I will begin a new chapter in my career.
I have accepted an amazing position at IBM Design in Austin. A few years back IBM initiated a massive design program dedicated to a big, bold vision for the future. Today there are four hundred designers in the program, and hundreds more to come. IBM Design itself is bigger than any place I have worked before, yet it is tiny when you consider there are four hundred and twenty-five thousand employees around the world. As a Design Practice Manager, I will step into a new position on a new team that will work across all of IBM's business divisions. From what little I know about my role, I'm in for an incredibly crazy ride.
Thank you to everyone who went the extra mile for me in the last nine months, I won't forget it. To the Austin digital community-at-large, thank you as well for your support and selfish desire to have me stay in Austin. I'm not going anywhere.
Recently I caught a few episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. If you haven't seen it yet, the show is just as the title says, comedians talking about their profession and life while drinking coffee and driving around (in amazing vehicles). Last season ended with a two-part episode featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Fallon. While funny throughout, there was this exchange that caught my attention:
Given their success and how long they have been in business it seems unfathomable that Jimmy and Jerry have these thoughts, but they're human, so it makes sense. Anyone who steps forward and takes a risk, at some point, will feel they are in the wrong placeIt's just a matter of time. Continue to take risks and the feelings are bound to return.
I have had these feelings of self-doubt several times in the last twenty years. Moments when I felt I had no business being where I was. Usually around times when I dared to take a leap into the unknown. It's comforting to know that despite the level of success, everyone suffers through self-doubt from time-to-time.
This is all a good reminder that as long as I keep pushing myself, my job title may change, but the role will remain the same, Imposter.
"Are you a movie star?" he asked without waiting for an answer, "You're a star, I know it." That is the greeting I received walking into Burns Tobacconist in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. We arrived at 11AM as the store was preparing for afternoon customers. A clerk tended to some bookkeeping while another restocked inventory. In the back corner stood a large man, next to his shoe shine stand, seemingly eager for conversation.
It was a little early to shop for a cigar, but we were there to get a photographeverything else that was about to happen was a bonus round.
As we asked for permission to take photos in the store, the man in the back continued to bellow, "You're a star, I know it! Go on, get your cigar, and come see me." I was more than happy to oblige. After a quick review of the inventory, I purchased an Oliva Serie V Double Torro. Cut and torched, I took a few good draws and headed straight for the stand.
Sherman put his newspaper down and prepped the stand for service. I climbed, sat down, took a quick puff, and he immediately went to work. While he cleaned the shoes, I tried to tell the man that I was not a star, but it's not clear that he understood or cared. Though I doubt many people walk into the shop with a photographer in tow, my guess is that he treats everyone with the same positive gustoa constant salesman.
Through the shine, Sherman gave me his take on life, especially pertaining to the pursuit of dating women. "The first thing women do is look at your shoesthis is what I try to tell these men (motioning around the office buildings surrounding us)if you don't take care of your shoes; women ain't interested." He continued, "When you go to the church picnic, the first thing they look at is your shoes. And if they like your shoes, next thing they ask is what kind of car you drive. And if they like your car, next they ask what you got in your pocket. And if you say, I have money in my pocket, then they say, okay, I'll let you take me out for a chicken and steak dinner."
These tidbits of wisdom were offered several times, in different configurations. It was clear to me that three things mattered the most in Sherman's world: well-shined shoes, women, and chicken and steak dinners (in that order).
As he preached, Sherman repeated a process which included polishing, buffing with a rag, buffing with a machine, more polishing, drying with heat, and more buffing. He did these things three times. Meanwhile, Chloe took photos from every angle possible, and I enjoyed every bit of the Oliva. This scene went on for twenty minutes. I wasn't a star when I walked into the shop, but I was starting to feel like one.
Unfortunately, the shoe shine came to an end. Sherman rolled my pant cuffs down and put things away. Chloe packed her camera. My time in the smoky limelight finished. We came into the store to find a final backdrop for a photoshoot, but got a lot more. Unintentionally, my world had grown richer; I made a new acquaintance, andyegods!my loafers looked better than new. I was ready for my chicken and steak dinner.
You can see the photo, and read my interview, in the May 2015 issue (the "Money Issue") of Net magazine.
I'm often asked how I'm doing. I do my best to put on a good face, but the truth is that some days my mental state is all over the place. The hardest part of this transition is the solitude. She Who Saves the Planet from Exploding Refineries is traveling more than she's supposed to which means that more days than not the only words I hear are my own. And that's only when I start talking to the cats.
Last fall I went from years of office chatter, Slack channels (previously Campfire) full of banter and animated GIFs, lunch dates, Skype meetings, phone calls, and the occasional happy hour to a twice daily scrum with cats. On an average day, my inbox received anywhere from 150-200 messages. Now, it's quiet. God help you if we talk by phone or Skype. I'll talk your ear off like an AARP member who calls QVC to chat about air purification systems, because the kids have stopped visiting, and Matlock isn't on for another hour.
If I've learned anything about myself in the last couple of months, it's that I would make a horrible cast away. At least I've got cats.
Grandma Storey once asked me what I thought hell was. Her question was pretty deep for a twelve-year-old. I hadn't given it much thought beyond the fire and lava pits depicted in Sunday school. In response, she told me that her idea of hell was to be "truly alone." Now that I think about it, she may have been reflecting on her situation at the time. Earlier in the year she had lost her husband leaving only his grandfather clock to fill the house with sound--not nearly enough to replace his booming personality. That said, I thought my version of hell, with the fire and the lava, was much more frightening.
Back to the present time, honestly, I'm in a good place. I am grateful to have the opportunity to take time to figure out exactly what I want to do next and with whom. Each week brings new ideas, introductions, and potential. It has been great to talk to so many people about possibilities, conversations that otherwise would likely have not taken place.
I look forward to being a part of a team again, having a Slack account, Inbox 200, non-QVC phone calls, meetings, reviews, and happy hoursthough sooner than later. If this "solace" continues much longer, I might have to get a fern and that, Grandma, would be hell to me.
News of GigaOm's demise hits hard this evening.
In the search for words in response of my own, I came across Wren's, and she puts it so well, "The web I fell in love with is disappearing into Nothingness. No doubt we get the web that we deserve. Now get off my damn lawn." It's true. Slowly but surely it feels like everything we built from 2000-2010 is fading fast or already gone forever.
Back in 2005, the boys at 9rules were on fire, creating some of the hottest properties on the Internet at the time. They were one of the first groups to recognize the blog format's commercial potential. Amidst the group, Mike Rundle, helped to elevate the experience of a blog through his design. Mike's work attracted a lot of attention because of the influence 9rules had on content site design at the time.
Mike's work on the redesign of GigaOm had an impact on all digital design in the day. The site became a destination for what was considered "great design" and was referenced often by Airbag clients back then. PaidContent, in particular, wanted/needed an experience that was on par with Rundle's work on GigaOm, a direct competitor. It was a tough gig to follow because Mike's minimalist work on GigaOm left little room to differentiate visually, and I was damned if I was going to deliver a carbon copy of someone else's work. Especially that of a good friend.
I was never a big GigaOm reader, but it was always a cornerstone of the Internet that I knew and love. And now, like a handful of other pieces from another era, it is gone. I'm all for the "new" taking over the "old," but, tonight this news...well, this just sucks.