Digital Culture Personal Writing

Writing, ownership, and blogging

I don’t remember the last time that I went an entire month without writing something here. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my blogging here at Pattern Recognition has suffered as a results of many things. Some of those reasons are simple;: I’ve got other platforms that I’m using now, including other social networks (Twitter, Google+, Friendfeed, Tumblr) and other blogs (ALA Techsource and American Libraries’ Perpetual Beta). I use some of these because they are easy, some because I like the conversations/community, and some because they pay me.

What I don’t like is that my writing, thoughts, interests…the comprehensive set of my online self, really…are distributed and scattered. I was ok with it for a long time, and I’m becoming very much not ok with it anymore. In the past, I’ve dabbled with pulling things from those other networks back here, but that doesn’t actually bring any of the reasons I use them here….it just brings the content. Which isn’t always what it’s about.

When I started writing here at PatRec back in 2003, none of those other networks even existed. It’s possible that if I were to start writing online these days, I wouldn’t even think of hosting my own blog, and one of the possibilities is that it’s time to let PatRec die a natural death. It may be that a distributed presence is the future of personhood on the ‘net….except I don’t think that’s true. I believe strongly, more than ever, that it’s important to own and control your own words, both in presentation and in regards to copyright/legal control. So I’m confronted with this tension: I like the tools that I don’t own, but I want to own the stuff I make with those tools.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about this. And I’m going to start experimenting with some ways to change things, starting with a post that I’m working on now about iCloud and Lion and the future of the filesystem. I would love to start a conversation about this, and see how others are dealing with this tension. Because I think I’m going to start reeling things in, reducing my contributions to other channels, and try to re-center my online presence.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

6 replies on “Writing, ownership, and blogging”

I’m thinking about this, too — but on a personal front. I had/have a personal blog that’s anonymized, but I haven’t written there in months. Daily photo posts on Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook have taken its place. I’ve had that blog since 2003, so I find it incredibly disconcerting that I’m choosing to let it die. I don’t know what it all means, but I don’t feel like I should force myself to save something that doesn’t provide value for me anymore… and yet.

I feel ya, Jason – my blog is pretty sporadically updated – most posts that I make end up on FriendFeed, Google+ or Twitter these days (or they are work-related posts for my library’s blog, but that’s a different matter). FriendFeed, at its beginning, was to be that place that pulls all other content into one (hopefully) coherent stream, with the ability to take that stream and host it on my own site, too. It has changed though – at least for me – into yet another place to create original posts. I post there far more often than I post anywhere else and with the issues with Twitter and FB streams being wonky, it is not really doing the job I’d like it to do – namely to aggregate my online life into a single stream.

With Yahoo Pipes, RSS and APIs, though, there is probably a way to pull all that content into one place again. This doesn’t really speak to the fact that your content has to be reined back in, I realize… If you come up with any great ideas, I know you’ll post them here. If I do, however, they’ll probably get started on FriendFeed and migrate their way over to Google+ for comment long before they make their way to my blog…

Yes, I think most of us who started blogs BT (before Twitter) are feeling something similar. I’ll be watching with interest to see how you solve this to your satisfaction, Jason.

Yes, yes, yes.

Not only do content centralizing solutions ignore the value that other platforms might give content, they’ve always seemed inelegant to me. Having duplicate content floating around seems inefficient and almost devalues it in a way.

I’m interested to know if your growing discomfort with “distributed Jason” has anything to do with general social software fatigue.

In my case, it does. I’ve never been extremely active on Facebook or Twitter and think weekly about deleting my accounts. But then every once in a while I’ll see a conversation about something I’ve written (elsewhere) and not only is it nice to have the option to chime in, but I think I’d feel irresponsible not knowing about these conversations. Maybe I should question this feeling.

I enjoyed using Flickr for many years but have all but abandoned it in the past year+. This is in part because the site isn’t all that fun to use anymore and in part because I just haven’t gotten a kick out of sharing my stuff on the web.

Sooooooo, I completely understand the drive to put everything in one basket, one that you’ll have the greatest amount of control over, and forget about the rest.

I like where you’re taking this discussion w/r/t iCloud and filesystems too. Mayhaps this way of thinking about owning content and the value centralized content is only for old people.

@Robin: you can pipe in content. Not so easy to pipe in context and connections.

I realize writing this (and thanks for the opportunity to clarify my thoughts) that, when I deliberately choose to be inactive on various social sites, the fear isn’t of missing content, much. It’s of missing conversations and connections. Hm.

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