What would happen if we unplugged from Twitter, Reddit, Hacker News, etc. and instead relied on smaller communities to gain exposure to the broader interweb of ideas? Would we end up painfully behind the curve? Or would we instead end up with more contextualized, more curated access to the resources we need?
What if instead of writing brief 140 character tweets and posting links to aggregators, we instead dusted off our personal websites and did weekly link dumps with explanations of why those things were interesting? What if we actually wrote deep essays and articles about the topics we care about rather than just having microbursts of general discussion about them? Would that make us shy away from online engagement because it sounds like too much work, or would it make us engage even more deeply in the things that really matter to us while allowing us not to waste our time on those intense but shallow things?
What if every sentence in this update ended up being a question? That’d be really annoying, so I guess I better stop that now and make my my point.
For a period of four weeks, I’m going to try to answer these questions for myself by staying away from Reddit, Twitter, Hacker News, and other extremely high traffic internet communities that have a poor signal to noise ratio. Instead, I’ll invest my time in chatting in the #mendicant and #mendicant-alumni IRC channels, posting to my personal website, interacting with Practicing Ruby subscribers, and discussing things on the mendicant-research mailing list. If I have some super awesome thing that I absolutely need to announce to the Ruby community, I’ll use RubyFlow or just email a few friends and ask them to spread the word.
Please think about taking this challenge with me. You don’t need to invest your time in the Mendicant community, obviously. It could be any other smaller and more contextual group you’re a part of, such as a local Ruby user’s group or the community of contributors around a particular open source project. It could even be something else entirely, as long as it puts you in touch something that is more “local” to your concerns, and allows you to express yourself in ways that are deeper than Twitter and link aggregators ever could. You don’t need to do it forever, it can be just for a month. But oh, what a month it will be!
Written by Gregory Brown on 24 January 2012. If you enjoyed this essay, please share it with your friends.