Thanks for reading

gif by @dazyang

Dear readers, thanks again for reading the blog. There’s no better activity than waking up every morning and putting something together on screen, whether’s it’s an op-ed, an inspirational quote, an interesting read, or a cool piece of art or music. This blog is my scrapbook of sorts.

Now for the promotional part… 

If you enjoy what I’m posting on this blog, I’d appreciate it if you showed some support by either becoming a patron or making a small one-time donation below.




You can also subscribe for $23/year!

I’d like to also remind you of the new and improved newsletter which includes fresh reads and new tunes plus other goodies. You can sign up right here or input your email address below.

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If you’ve already done any of the above, thank you!

PS. Please drop me a note in the comments. What else do you want to see? What do you want to see more/less of? I’d like to this thing going. 🙏

Maria Popova: I loathe the term “content”

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Brain Pickings blogger Maria Popova sat down with WordPress in the Own Your Content series to discuss evergreen ideas and rethinking the meaning of content.

Popova writes about timeless topics. “I am drawn to ideas that remain resonant across time and space, across cultures and civilizations.” If you read her blog, you know that she excels in digging up little-known gems from primary sources and combining them in an interesting way.

Her talent reminds me of what professor Kenneth Goldsmith of the University of Pennsylvania said about education in the internet era: “an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.”

Maria excels in making old content relevant again. Following her blog is a direct line to her insatiable curiosity.

In this sense, then, it naturally inclines toward what you call “evergreen” — which I take to mean enduring ideas that hold up across the years, decades, and centuries, and continue to solace and give meaning undiminished by time.

Yet, she also dislikes the word content as it compels merchants to race the bottom in the form of [easyazon_link identifier=”0804170045″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]attention-seeking missiles[/easyazon_link]:

I loathe the term “content” as applied to cultural material — it was foisted upon us by a commercially driven media industry that treats human beings as mindless eyeballs counted in statistics like views and likes, as currency to be traded against advertising revenue. Somehow people have been sold on the idea that the relationship between ads and “content” is a symbiotic one, but it is a parasitic one.

While tech may be the cigarette of the century,  the internet does provide space for writers like Maria Popova to demonstrate combinatorial creativity in the name of the hyperlink. If used properly, the internet can be a learning machine rather than a [easyazon_link identifier=”0553418831″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]propaganda tool[/easyazon_link].

What’s the difference between blogging and writing?

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There is no difference between blogging and writing.

Blogging is the process of writing. The only difference is that appears on a website rather than in a formal publication like a newspaper or a book.

The best part about blogging is that it’s free. You can set one up right now on WordPress in a few minutes. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Advises Andrew Chen:

“Writing is the most scalable professional networking activity. Stay home, don’t go to events/conferences, and just put ideas down.”

Everything is a remix

You can change the world from your computer. The content doesn’t have to be original. Like a hip-hop track, you can sample but credit the source. You can share a link or a post a video and add some context. Show people what you’d think they’d like.

Blogging is the practice of writing, unpolished but still remarkable. Blogging means more writing, more thinking, and more doing. It’s a  canvass for working out ideas but also a catalyst to building other stuff.


The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org explained in simple terms

Don't sweat the details. The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org explained in simple terms
Don’t sweat the details. If you want to create a blog, let’s keep it simple.

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there still between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Think of WordPress.com as the all-in-one site building package that hosts all your content and design, pretty much everything! It’s a one-stop shop that comes with WordPress’s own plugins like Jetpack and WooCommerce.

Keep in mind that Automatic is the company behind WordPress so if you see a plugin built by Automatic that’s essentially WordPress. 

Now, think of WordPress.org as half of the core essentials of powering your website. You still need somewhere to store all your parts!

WordPress.org is both the blog tool and software engine

WordPress.org is merely the software engine powering your site. For instance, you need a browser to access the web — whether it be Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Similarly, you need a tool to blog just like you need a car to drive. That tool or vehicle is WordPress, the backbone operating system integral to the entire publishing ecosystem.

The other half of the blog engine is your host, the critical piece that houses all the data living on your site including your theme and all your posts and plugins. There are a plethora of companies offering their services as hosts, most notably Bluehost or WPEngine.

So why choose with WordPress.org + self-hosted if WordPress.com handles everything?

One of the perks of going self-hosted is that you can make your website fully customizable. You can choose from over thousands of third-party plugins with apps like the SEO optimizer Yoast, special sharing widgets like Social Warfare or monetize your site with Google Adsense. You can see more plugins here

A screenshot of popular plugins offered in WordPress.org

However…

What’s new this year is that you can use WordPress.com like a self-hosted site BUT only if you upgrade to WordPress.com Business!

Signing up for a WordPress.com Business account gets you the security of everything WordPress provides out of the box plus the ability to add from the 55,000 third-party plugins like those mentioned above so you can customize your site whichever way you want. Basically, WordPress Business is the best of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org in one place. 

I wrote a whole post on why upgrading to WordPress.com Business is worth every penny. Find it here

I hope the above explanation outlines the differences between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org. Keep in mind also that you can still blog for free on WordPress. WordPress.com will always offer a version that will always be free!

Choose your WordPress.com flavor today!

WordPress.com

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE THE DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

How to Start Your Blog on WordPress With Bluehost in 3 Steps

Everyone should blog, whether you’re a business, influencer, hobbyist, or creative. There’s no reason not to, even if no one reads it. Blogs are tools for thinking and making stuff. They are also easy to set up.

I strongly recommend using WordPress over Tumblr, Weebly, Squarespace, or any of the other website builders.

Why WordPress?

 WordPress powers 31% of the internet while also giving you the tools to promote your work and stand out from the crowd.

If you’re looking to launch a blog with WordPress, I’ve outlined the three steps for you below! Keep in mind that you also get 51% off hosting ($7.99 $3.95/month) plus a  FREE domain name if you launch with Bluehost.

Getting Started With a WordPress Blog

1 – You’ll need to pick a domain nameThis is the fun part. Select a domain that represents your or your own unique brand identity. You can even get a .blog domain name like me. For your convenience, you can start your search by using the widget below.

2 – Select a dependable hosting provider. Your hosting provider is the backbone of your site. Fortunately, Bluehost offers a quick and easy one-click activation of WordPress so you can pick a theme and start blogging right away.

3 – Customize your blog’s content and appearance. The design is everything! After installing WordPress, you’ll want to customize the design of your site so it’s easy on the eyes. First and foremost, you’ll want the content in your posts to stand out. But you’ll also want to encourage your visitors to sign up to email lists, shop your products, or direct them to any other call to actions (affiliates, ads, best posts, etc.) in the sidebar widget area. There are a ton of awesome plugins you’ll want to explore, some of which are listed in the bottom of this blog post.

Next steps

If you sign up now, you’ll receive a special offer of shared hosting at $3.95/month for 36 months (that’s 51% off) plus a free domain name for a year! However, there are Plus and Prime plans as well should you want increased speeds and bandwidth.

Bluehost has everything you need to make a WordPress site that works for you. Have fun and get blogging!

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE THE DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.


Lacing the blogs 

I see blogs as projects for unique avenues of thinking.

This blog is my thinking blog. It focuses on what I’m reading and chewing on. It’s a collection provocative ideas and observations.

My music blog bombtune.com is like my music shelf. It’s an ongoing library of new music finds from the current year. The post art is just as significant as the music. I like to dig around on the artist sites and social networks to select images of the musician. The stream — whether it’s from Bandcamp or SoundCloud, contains the song/album art.

My fadesin.com blog focuses on creative ways to respond to prompts. WordPress does a great job in galvanizing its community by inspiring people to show their angle on a variety of topics and photography challenges. For the latter, rummage through my Google Photos to see what works.

Meanwhile, my Tumblr blog is more or less an aggregator. I cross-post there but also play natively within the platform by posting quotes and resharing cool GIFs from others. I also use my Instagram to dice up the array of posting.

Nevertheless, all of feeds tie together. They are ways of seeing, of which nothing becomes clear until I write it down and publish it.

“Blogs are like ham­mers. They are tools for building stuff.”

— Hugh MacLeod

Blogs permit me to show my work. The writing can be repetitive and thematic, which often means I’m trying to nail down the nugget or UBI (unifying big idea) of my approach. But at the end of the day, I want to say ‘this is what I made today.’

In short, blogging is another way to connect the dots on screen.

To dare is to blog

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A blog helps you solidify your thinking. But the practice of blogging is both a freedom and a constraint.

It’s liberating to say whatever you want, even if no one reads it. How dare someone discovers you! At the same time, there’s a fear that what’s written isn’t polished enough to be published.

But that’s what blogs are: rough drafts. They’re good enough. They are the blank piece of paper, a sandbox where people work out ideas. Blogs are full of contradictions and imperfections.

The fear is that your words may be wrong or misunderstood. No one likes to be called out. But that’s also part of the excitement; the ability to catch someone’s criticism.

Bloggers are already naked. They can even blog in their underwear. Bloggers notice and give other people something to discuss.

Bloggers raise their hand before they are ready. They pick themselves, professionals, past success, or not. They have a long-term willingness to figure it out all out and change the world while no one notices.

Writing vs. blogging

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Let it all out

If you want to feel like you’re losing, write a book. If you want to feel like you’re winning, blog. With a blog, you can publish every day to get your hit of dopamine. A book is a practice in delaying gratification.

Writing or blogging is a matter of preference. Seth Godin publishes a blog post every day in addition to writing books and working on his altMBA program. Maria Popova is a blogger that specializes in digging through old print books to inspire blog posts but admits that she has no appetite to pen a novel herself.

The most important thing is to write and enjoy the practice, even if your writing never sees light of day. You should write for yourself anyway. Just don’t write so hard in your turtle shell that you remember to be a human being.

“Those who work much do not work hard.” – Henry David Thoreau

Why everyone should blog

“Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.” — Seth Godin

Everyone should blog. You do not have to publish 500 words a day. You do not even need to post at all. In fact, writing comes easier when you can write for yourself, in private.

Use a smartphone journal like the Day One app or the ever popular Morning Pages Journal where you write by hand. When it comes to blogging effectively, you have to be a little vulnerable. Don’t tell all but don’t hide everything either, especially if your advice will benefit the lives of other people.

I have been blogging for years (click here to view my guide to setting up a blog on WordPress). It is harder to get an audience who cares to read your stuff today than it has ever been. You have to assume nobody wants to read your shit because he or she is busy or would rather be social networking or playing games instead. However, for those readers who do read your blog frequently, they have subscribed for a reason.

Luis Suarez has been blogging since 2002 and recently offered some advice about using your blog to reflect the real you.

“It’s all about having a meaningful presence and how you work your way to make it happen, to leave a legacy behind, to share your thoughts and ideas others can learn from just like you do yourself with other people’s vs. pretending to be who you are not…Just be yourself with your own thoughts and share them along! It is what we all care for, eventually. The rest is just noise.”

People like to say blogging is dead. But not only are new platforms emerging like Medium, but blogging is just writing. Words will always be a powerful way to say something meaningful, whether it is in print, online, graffiti, or the walls of a cave.

Here’s a tip: If you want to start a blog, try WordPress.com for free or go with a Personal account ($4/mo) with a custom domain name and access to dozens of free themes.  Learn More

I started this blog so I could show the world what interests me. It is no surprise that what you read here is information I learned from other blogs. In other words, blogging acts like a canvass where you synthesize, remix and interpret in your words. Above all, blogging is free, what Seth Godin calls “the last great online bargain.” Blogging gives you a voice, and it is an excellent incentive to think in a world that just wants us to consume.

Blogging is a bicep curl for the brain. Write daily, and practice the art of conviction.

“Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t “network” or “promote.” Just talk.”

Neil Gaiman

An Instagram Experiment

I’m going to start using my Instagram account as a blog. While pictures generally speak for themselves I believe there’s a backstory there that people would be interested in. I’m in New York after all.

I published my first one yesterday to low engagement. Maybe I wrote too much. Maybe the image just sucked.

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Either way, I’ve got a decent following on Instagram and social media and this blog are just are a palette for experiment. Let me know what you think of this approach and if you’ve explored different approaches on the Instagram platform. Thanks.

7 articles to read this weekend

Every week I release a pack of links that inspire me to think differently about the world we live in. The road is better than the end, isn’t it?

1. Wanting To Be Normal

Normal means having a house and a relationship. These things are supposed to create a life of happiness. But normal is boring and unconscious, what psychiatrist Tania Glyde refers to as “Happily being, without mentally doing; living as an existential lily of the field.” Being normal is hard. Emotions and struggles force you to think outside the box and deepen perspective. Story short, it sucks to be normal. Be weird instead.

+ Financial Times: The secret to happiness may be low expectations. Constrict choice, create happiness.

2. Time Bias

Don’t judge a book by its cover. The old adage rings true for the online world as well where news sites are providing estimated reading times. You can’t judge content on the amount of estimated minutes it takes to read. You may miss the good stuff, like Frank Chimero’s piece on content consumption and time management.

+ Shawn Blanc: Shawn finally watches Jiro Dreams of Sushi and realizes its about creating good work just as much as it’s about consuming good work.

3. Saying “No”

Say “no” makes you makes you more creative because it frees up the time you need to do the real, primary work. As Kevin Ashton writes, “Time is the raw material of creation.”

+ Crew Blog: Restrict checking email because it inhibits work flow. Suggestion: Focus on what’s important with email breaks in between.

4. The Indies

Who would the masses have to steal cool ideas from if it weren’t for the independent creators driving innovation? The Indies, whether’s a bedroom musician or app creator, can make the things they want and love without having to appease a larger audience. Naturally, they attract the fans that fill their niche. As Brent Simmons explains, “Inventiveness, passion, and courage comes from indies, not from people who watch the bottom line.”

5. Get Lucky

Lucky people are “lucky” because they’re less anxious and more open to opportunities. They don’t look for perfect like the unlucky person does. They look to embrace the moment instead. Lucky people see the positive in their misfortunes.

6. Weird Science

Science is based on what we know now and changes based on the latest continually evolving evidence. Unlike religion, science has not truths. It can’t be Googled. As professor Amy Meyer writes, “Science is a continual challenging of common sense, and the core of science is not certainty, it’s continual uncertainty.” Science begins with asking questions and composing present solutions, only to create even more doubt.

7. Reflections on Blogging

Blogging is about owning your own canvass, shipping your opinion yet willing to be shaped by the feedback others give back to you. Dana Boyd reflects on blogging and concludes that in addition to serving as her public microphone, blogging is also learning in disguise.

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7 articles to read this weekend

Every week I link to 7 articles that inspire me to think differently about art, life, productivity, and technology. Inspiration is the fuel that inspires curiosity, creativity, and doing the work.

1. Digital vs Print

I read faster on my iPhone. I read more deeply on the Internet-less Kindle. And I read too hard with paper books. Everyone’s got their own preference; I’d be happy never to touch a newspaper or paperback again. Reading speed and comprehension on ebook vs print ultimately “depends on what you’re reading and why.”

+ Medium: Read more creatively by focusing on the good stuff. If you read the less by focusing on the best sources you can avoid information overflow, argues Sarah Gooding.

2. Art of the Mix Tape

Remember how much effort it took to create an actual mixtape, not just mastering the timing of the recordings but also organizing the sequence is songs. It had to flow. Well, 8tracks has been enabling users to build mixtapes online for years now. And they’re finally getting the kudos they deserve. The mixtape is inherently social which is the key to 8track’s success.

+FastCoLabs: Soundcloud opens up new offices in Berlin and reinvents its app in its latest update.

3. Ike and Tina

Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka SwissMiss) has been one of the Internet’s best side project entrepreneurs. In this video, she reveals her 5 personal rules. My favorite: identify and embrace your superpower.

+ First Round: Spotify’s design lead explains why side products should be stupid.

4. No ‘I’ in Team

Soccer is a team sport. It’s the system and shape that determine success, with exception to few stellar players like Messi and Ronaldo. That’s why teams like Costa Rica and the United States move on in this World Cup and England suffers, argues Simon Critchley.

5. Voicemail is Dead

When’s the last time you actually welcomed a voicemail? As Teddy Wayne so eloquently explains, no one (at least teenagers) leaves voicemails any more; they text instead and call back if it’s important.

6. Trust Your Gut

After enough experience you start to realize where the ball will bounce next. Experience builds more intelligence and better judgement which in turns builds better instincts. The folks at Harvard have the data to back it up.

7. Blogging is thinking

The New York Times is killing a bunch of its blogs. They required a lot of work with little payoff. That’s because people misunderstand what the blog is really about. As Om explains, blogging is a philosophy more than a publishing tool. I like to think of this blog as a canvass that allows me to think and connect the dots.

Blogging started as a very irreverent thing. If it’s going to be anything as we go forward, we have to stop caring what other entities think we are and focus on what we think we are.

Dave Weiner

Om is right. Blogging is a philosophy more than a publishing tool. I like to think of the blog as a canvass that allows me to think and connect the dots.