Fifty (Podcast) Years

Last week, Bionic turned 50.  (Accurately, in this instance.)

In other words, Myke and I have been broadcasting our show for over a year. During that time, Bionic has won an award or two, been subject to its fair share of controversy, and has moved to 5by5. Not to mention sexy cruises, android toilets, tearaway trousers, and other such valuable  content.

For those who don't know the back-story, it took Myke several weeks to convince me to co-host the show with him. He'd arranged the name, artwork, concept, and sponsorships, but I was simply not ready to dive into the world of podcasting. Of course — Myke being a persuasive British personality — I eventually signed up.

And I couldn't be more grateful that I did so. 

Today, as I'm becoming ever-increasingly involved in the startup ecosystem in the U.S. and Europe, OneThirtySeven suffers due to my lack of time. I simply don't have the cognitive freedom to sit down and write a few thousand words about Instagram the same as I did six months ago.

In its place, however, Bionic keeps me very much attuned to the technology world. From an agnostic perspective, Myke and I cover the biggest entities in the technology ecosystem. And, for those who listen, you'll be aware that my opinions can often be expressed just as they would here on OneThirtySeven  (i.e., lengthy monologues about the state of the industry).

In many respects, Bionic is better than it has ever been. We've hit our stride post-70Decibels (rest in peace) and my opinions are often exclusively being aired via the show. 

So, for those who miss more frequent content here, I highly recommend experimenting with Bionic.  We're a mature, 50-year-old podcast now. (A PILF, if you will?)

For those who simply want to see more content right here, I've made it a goal to do just that, too. I'll be writing one or two long-form articles every week.

Although people have expressed a desire to see more ephemeral content on OneThirtySeven  — as it was in the early days — I simply will not have the time to do such content justice. Accordingly, various pieces of (frequently inappropriate) ephemera will be shared almost exclusively on Twitter.

OneThirtySeven  will be home to regular columns about the state of our industry, Bionic will be home to my long-form, specific thoughts on the latest news, and Twitter will be where I link to BuzzFeed listicles.

This site's readership continues to grow on a month-to-month basis, for which I am outrageously humbled and grateful. And I will do my utmost to serve that readership in the very best way possible. 

So, subscribe to OneThirtySeven 's RSS, Bionic via 5by5 (or iTunes), and find me on Twitter. It'll be glorious.

San Francisco (January 30 - February 5)

From this afternoon (Wednesday, January 30) through next Tuesday (February 5), I'm going to be in San Francisco for a combination of work, Macworld 2013, the Crunchies Awards, and Superbowl festivities. If you're in town and you're reading this, I'd love to have a coffee.

For the next day or two, with the exceptions of some meetings, I plan to spend most of my time in and around Macworld. Although I don't intend to spend lengthy periods on the exhibition floor itself, I'll undoubtedly be very nearby — most likely at Blue Bottle or a bar of some kind — during the day.

Outside of the conference, I'll be attending most of the social events surrounding Macworld and the Crunchies over the next few days. As for the weekend, I've left my schedule mostly open.

If you'd like to introduce yourself, catch-up, or just generally have a beer, please do reach out. The best part of these trips is meeting new, like-minded people. So, don't hesitate to stop me in the street if you spot me.

This time last year, I was a newcomer to the community and setting aside social barriers at Macworld was one of the best decisions I could've possibly made. Friends I made back then remain some of my closest Internet contacts to date.

So, if you're around Macworld, the Crunchies, or just generally live in the vicinity, please say "Hello." In the words of David Sparks, "Make yourself uncomfortable and introduce yourself to people and make some new friends. You're among family at Macworld and you won't regret it."

As always, you can reach me via Twitter or email throughout.

Supporting Independent Content and OneThirtySeven

Since launching the site redesign in September, 2012, I've received a humbling number of donations from readers via the well-hidden OneThirtySeven PayPal form. As I noted when I added the capacity for donations, I simply have no intention or inclination to advertise the feature.

Today's a brief exception.

Generally speaking, I fear that far too many writers are attempting to prematurely monetize their writing. Although I certainly understand the desire to elicit a material gain from the hours spent producing content online, I feel that, in some cases, monetization has overtaken quality as the goal and purpose of writing in the first place.

Many have taken to implementing membership initiatives, magazines, newsletters, t-shirts, postcards, and so on, but few have remained focused upon improving the commodity and service they're attempting to sell.

When I added the capacity for donations, it was not a frivolous moment. I thought long and hard about providing such an option. In the end, I settled upon adding it, but tucking it away within the site.

The reason is that this weblog is not yet at a point I feel is deserving of large-scale support.

Metrically speaking, OneThirtySeven appears extremely solid. Readership continues to multiply on a monthly basis, RSS and Twitter followers are increasing steadily, the consistency of posting is reaching a point of relative stability, and this content has now been proliferating for over a year.

And yet, from a personal perspective, I feel there is much further for me to go with my voice, my curation, and my techniques. Accordingly, I'm extremely wary of instituting any semblance of well-traveled monetization method.

2013 is going to be a year of tidal shifts in digital publishing. Although the independent community stands apart from the world of mainstream publications, I suspect there will be a convergence this year over experimentation in monetization. Memberships, paywalls, and so-called "freemium" models will invariably become commonplace, but only a handful will find long-term viability in doing so.

The trouble is that, with each new monetization model requiring reader support, the market becomes increasingly destabilized. There's only so many writers that readers can be expected to support and the rapid proliferation of the monetization mentality in the publishing community will likely cause an excessive saturation.

I mean to say that, even if OneThirtySeven was at a point of feasible financial support from the community, I would be reticent to adopt one of these models. Folks like John Gruber, Shawn Blanc, Jim Dalrymple, and Andrew Sullivan have pioneered new ways to fund their craft, whilst innumerable others have simply attempted to re-appropriate their efforts.

For all of this, I mean to suggest that I do not intend to implement a monetization method unless I can create something altogether different from my counterparts in both the independent and mainstream communities. I'm of the belief that, without sufficient differentiation, this weblog will simply merge with a growing mass of similar sites with similar business models. 

OneThirtySeven and Bionic were both conceived with the purpose of being different in voice, content, and purpose, and mindlessly adopting a business model for the sake of attempting to gratify myself would, therefore, not only be pointless, but also an element of self-betrayal.

I hope I don't come across as disparaging of other independent creators who've implemented monetization models. I support a great deal of them and I believe you should too. The trouble is that we're quickly moving toward a point of utter communal saturation — a point at which it will become difficult for the average reader to support all of the sites she or he enjoys. Just as retail subscription services rose to prominence in 2012 and subsequently overwhelmed many consumers, independent publishers are facing a similar problem. Although I'd love to support as many as possible, it's just becoming patently unfeasible for both myself and the wider reading public to do so.

For now, I'll continue to offer a donations option, but I've removed PayPal as the medium for such support. Per Patrick Rhone (a writer you should be supporting, by the way), I've migrated my donations to Spacebox (a front-end for Stripe). As a result, payments are made more easily, PayPal doesn't clutch its talons into your shoulders, and the process is made all the more incidental.

For those of you who've donated in the past, as I've written to each of you individually, I cannot thank you enough. Your gracious donations provide me with a great deal of confidence and drive.

For those who're considering a donation, I'm not going to coax you into it. OneThirtySeven is a learning platform for me and I find more than enough reward in seeing more and more people reading, linking, and chatting about my writing.

Still, if you'd like to express your support, I welcome small donations via Spacebox, but I'd be equally appreciative of a simple email with a few words of advice or support.

For those in the independent community, I strongly advise against implementing an ill-considered monetization method for your weblog. Consider your audience before you decide to ask them for money. Be mindful of the bearing a membership model has upon your readership. Although you might think there'd be no correlation, I suspect the reality is quite to the contrary.

As I wrote in November, 2012:

Anything you earn whilst writing — be it money, friends, connections, or otherwise — is a gift that you would not have had otherwise. To embrace an attitude of self-entitlement and demand more is not only excessive, but it is rather embarrassing.
The lesson is that pursuing things you are passionate about and enjoy will inevitably benefit you in an astounding manner. But, if you choose to pre-define the shape of these gains, you will find yourself disappointed and disillusioned.
Enjoy a sense of blind optimism and write for the sake of writing. You will unquestionably be rewarded for doing so.

In other words, there's more to writing than searching for a fleeting material gain. So, if you plan to introduce a monetization method, please try to keep that in mind.

For those who wish to donate, you can do so via Spacebox. For those who wish to email me instead, you can reach me here.

As always, thank you for your support. Should the situation allow it during the year, I may well consider a formal business model for OneThirtySeven. For now, though, I'm quite happy to just have a few words of support here and there.

At the end of the day, that's really what it's all about.

2013 Golden Headphones Awards

Myke Hurley:

Each year on 70Decibels, we like to look back and award the best moments, shows and hosts of that year. To do this we create a special episode, where the network's hosts can get together and celebrate what we have created.
So, for your enjoyment we present this year's Golden Headphone Awards.
We really hope you enjoy this episode and have a happy holidays, from all of us at 70Decibels.

The Award Show was a lot of fun to record. It's rare that all of us are able to catch up, chat, and laugh on air at the same time. The addition of musical flare, clapping, and some fun awards only makes for the better.

Although Bionic's only 23 episodes old, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor to be a part of the 70Decibels network in 2012. It's a phenomenal group of extraordinarily talented people and I feel humbled to work with them each week.

For those who don't wish to listen to the whole thing, I won 'Best New Host of 2012' and 'Best Stephen Hackett Troll of 2012.' For the former award, thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening to the show and voting for me over the past few weeks. I'm still a complete amateur when it comes to these things, but I'm pleased that my ramblings have at least been somewhat appreciated by our listeners.

As for the latter award, I was merely doing my rightful duty as a human being.

The show is available from 70Decibels (via CMD+Space).