Consumers search online, buy offline

What most marketers still don’t fully appreciate is that most online research results in an offline purchase. This is the dominant use case now for non-informational searches: a user on a smartphone looking for a product or service, where the transaction or fulfillment is offline.”

Google Maps the dominant local search tool (Search Engine Land)

This is absolutely how I shop. For example: I’m doing a lot of housework this week, so I keep checking the Home Depot and Canadian Tire sites to browse their inventory.

If I see something I need, I’ll add it to my shopping list, and then pop up to the shops to buy everything in one go.

If I’m looking for a new local store to buy from, I’ll check Google Maps for business-level information: where they’re located, what their hours are, the reviews, and if they have it, a link to their site. Ditto for restaurants.

Professional writer = professional reader

Being a professional writer now means I can be a professional reader. Montaigne said he made bouquets out of other men’s flowers, but he was the one who provided the string to tie them together. I like that image, except bouquets eventually die, and the great thing about books is that they are paper bouquets that never die: they can be torn to their pieces and rearranged indefinitely.”

An intercourse with the world (Austin Kleon)

I’m a voracious reader. I think my blog proves that. I used to feel guilty for all my reading — I felt like I wasn’t producing enough, or doing enough — but not so much anymore. All these inputs are the raw material, and when the time comes, when I need to, I can remix what I’ve learned to create something new.

Invest in success every single day

“It’s easy to overestimate the importance of luck on success and underestimate the importance of investing in success every single day.”

The Surprising Power of the Long Game (Farnam Street)

This goes hand-in-hand with another FS post I shared last week: repetition is a better way to learn. Together, both embrace a sort of maintenance-first approach.

Increasingly, I’m thinking of life in a set of “buckets”:

  • My home — house > neighbourhood > town > province > country
  • My career — my work at GoDaddy, but more broadly as well
  • My health — physical and mental
  • My relationships — family and friends
  • My hobbies — art, reading, writing, tinkering with tech

And every week I try — albeit not always successfully — to move things forward in each bucket. That might be doing stuff around the house, hitting the gym a few times, meeting with friends, chomping through some new books, studying something new.

My hope is that all of that adds up to a successful life.

Wear out your beginner gear

“Wearing out your beginner gear is like graduating. You know that you’ve stuck with the sport long enough that you aren’t truly a beginner anymore. You may have managed to save up some cash for the next step. And you can buy the nicer gear now, knowing exactly what you want and need.”

Buy the cheap thing first (Kottke)

+ Beginner gear isn’t the same thing as cheap gear. A decent entry-level bicycle from your local bike shop (shoutout Northern Cycle!) will almost always be more expensive than buying a Supercycle from Canadian Tire.

Online community predates the web

“While working at CERN, Berners-Lee had put together all of the elements of the World Wide Web, and it was even starting to get some use internally. But he had yet to announce the project publicly. The message above was his first time doing so. The venue he chose was the most familiar to him. In a Usenet post, unceremoniously tucked away inside another thread.”

The Importance of Being on Usenet (The History of the Web)

Online community predates the web: BBSes, Usenet, email mailing lists, IRC.

What’s nice about these early platforms — and even the software that followed on the web, like internet forums (message boards) — was that they were decentralized. They were protocols or software that anyone could use to create a new place of their own.

But that’s not where we are today. We’re firmly in Web 2.0, relying on centralized service providers like Facebook, Twitter, Slack, et al.

There’s obvious upside to using these services. They handle the maintenance, the development, the support. But they also have total control. They decide how the service runs and how they’ll use your data.

Thankfully, though, there are alternatives.

Mastodon, Friendica, and Diaspora are all decentralized alternatives to Twitter and Facebook. Mattermost and Rocket.Chat are decentralized, open alternatives to Slack. PeerTube is an open alternative to YouTube. And forum software like Discourse, Flarum, and Vanilla are all open alternatives to Facebook Groups.

You can emulate some of this on WordPress, too. BuddyPress adds social media capabilities to WordPress. bbPress adds a forum. Not to mention plugins like Memberful and MemberPress that can add a paid membership component.

TL;DR = Online community predates the web. It was built on open protocols and platforms of the early internet. That spirit lived on in Web 1.0. We lost some of that with Web 2.0 and centralized service providers, but we’re not beyond redemption.

Chaos is a feature of the online world

This chaos — this cubism, this unleashing of our multiple selves — is a feature, not a bug, of the online world. It’s arguably its defining characteristic for those who grew up there. You could attribute all the jump cuts, all the endlessly iterating memes, to a destroyed attention span. But it’s also evidence of something deeper, a mind-set people are just trying to name.”

“Arguably it is the dominant postapocalyptic vision of our digital times, the internet’s McLuhan moment, brought to us by teenagers who, as such, spend their days feeling like 10 different people at once and believe they can, and should, express them all. We all contain multitudes. The kids seem to know that’s all right.”

What Do Teens Learn Online Today? (NY Times Magazine)

When I look at the fluidity of the next generation and how they behave online, I feel a pang of nostalgia for the years I spent lurking on message boards during the early 00’s.

It’s a different landscape now. The linear discussion threads I grew up with have given way to ephemeral video with superimposed text and memes and emojis (memojis? ?)

But having a multitude of aliases and different personas to morph in and out of? Heh. That’s old news. It’s been part of the online experience since Usenet. We’re just witnessing Gen Z manifest it in a new way.

Subscriptions might save local news

Most local newspapers are simply not worth saving, not because local news isn’t valuable, but rather because everything else in your typical local newspaper is worthless (from a business perspective). That is why I was careful in my wording: subscriptions will not save newspapers, but they just might save local news, and the sooner that distinction is made the better.

A sustainable local news publication will be fundamentally different: a minimal rundown of the news of the day, with a small number of in-depth articles a week featuring real in-depth reporting, with the occasional feature or investigative report. After all, it’s not like it is hard to find content to read on the Internet: what people will pay for is quality content about things they care about (and the fact that people care about their cities will be these publications’ greatest advantage).”

The Local News Business Model (Stratechery)

I’m bullish on local news. It’s just taking a while for the next generation of local news properties to pop up. Thanks to projects like Newspack, Substack, and others, I think we’re going to get there soon. Hopefully.

Millennials and Gen Z were born on the wrong side

” Britons who came of age in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 will, in many cases, be worse off than their parents. Born on the wrong side of skyrocketing property values, 30-year-olds are only half as likely to own homes as baby boomers were at the same age. A third are expected to rent for their whole lives.”

The Making of a Young U.K. Socialist (New York Times)

I recognize and am grateful for how lucky we are to be millennial home owners. I grew up in basement apartments and the notion of buying a house felt like a lofty dream well beyond my reach.

But that’s still the reality for most people our age. Aside from us lucky outliers, the system failed our peers.

Those who came before us — not all, but broadly, as a generation — climbed a ladder to higher ground, and knocked the ladder over once they reached the top.

Procrastinating through research

“In my experience writing books, it isn’t just a “resistance” thing or a “perfectionist” thing or a fear thing, it’s more about research and wondering if you’ve done enough of it. Research becomes your way of procrastinating, because, let’s face it, research is just more fun than writing. (Me, personally, I became a professional writer so I could be a professional reader.)”

Start before you think you’re ready (Austin Kleon)

I feel this. So hard.

My reading queue on Pocket is a mile long. Nevermind the stack of books in my office, the endlessness of my “Read This” tasks in Todoist, or the lists of URLs in Notion pages that, at some point, I need to review and consolidate into notes for future projects and professional development.

Sigh. There just never seems to be enough time.