This collection is an experiment. Recently, I’ve been considering the effects Medium has already had on the ways I personally write and publish, and how that’s effecting how I consume and produce written content. I’m young, so a platform like Medium was perhaps what I needed to nudge me into a writer’s lifestyle, rather than this startup-chic-hacker-charade I’ve been trying to pull off.
As I slowly began writing a little bit more often than I had been previously, I also noticed an uptick in the amount and type of material I’m reading. That’s partially because almost every decent writer will tell you that one of the few things that improves your writing skills as much as actually writing a lot is reading a lot. But there’s a lot in the world to read. So where does one begin? Thanks to the internet, it’s almost overwhelming. And surely, there must be a good amount of great stories which fly entirely under the radar.
In one of his classic talks, Clay Shirky once stated that our obsession with information overload is due to “filter failure”: namely, our tools haven’t been good at figuring out what information is important to us. He says that while we’ve been in the state since the invention of the printing press, it used to be that publishers were the original gatekeepers of content: not out of choice, per se, but out of economic necessity. Since the explosion of the internet, this dynamic has changed significantly, leaving the publishers-as-filters methodology far behind.
But if writers must read so much to become better writers, then it seems that they should become equally as good — if not better — than traditional publishers at filtering content? Should writers themselves be the “new” filters? And, if so, how do we spread works once we have filtered them?
Some would argue that this is one of the niches Twitter has filled, and I’d agree, somewhat, but argue that the nature of Twitter (realtime, push updates in chronological feeds) does not make it the ideal platform for curating and sharing written works. It, does, however, make some sense that the ideal platform for sharing interesting written works would also be the ideal platform for writing written works and interesting stories.
Hence, this collection. The tentative plan for this collection is simple: In each post I’ll post links things I read that I like, in all kinds of categories that are interesting to me, with a little quote or something in the body (see this example). Maybe eventually I’ll invite others to collaborate in this space. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll stop doing this because it’s a horrible idea and delete the collection. Maybe it’ll thrive. Maybe the developers at Medium will take inspiration from experimentation on their platform. Or maybe they’ll tell me to knock it off. I don’t know.
Actually, the title of this collection comes from an obscure Spanish word that means, roughly, “someone who goes looking for something in a place he knows it doesn't exist, but what finds something even better than what he was looking for in the first place.” To me, that’s the true beauty of an experiment like this: trying to find new ways of solving old problems, knowing that the journey en route to proving a hypothesis may not be as fruitful as he first hoped, but that what he learned along the way was more important and better than he could have imagined. I hope you’ll join me.