I’ve just gotten up on the first day back from SXSW, and what woke me up was the constant pressure of thoughts in my brain. Thoughts about my to-do list, thoughts about folks who have emailed me without a reply, and thoughts about the new concepts and insights that the trip brought me. Save for a quick trip to the bathroom, my desk has been a hubbub of activity ever since I awoke.
Now that i’ve taken care of the truly pressing matters in the first two categories, I can spend a little time preparing my blog for the latter. If there’s one thing I constantly was reminded of during SXSW, it’s that publishing counts. The ideas going back and forth at a conference seem to usually reflect the result of a plethora of conversations between peers, not of an isolated mental track. To me, this is why it’s so common to go to a panel in your industry of expertise and hear what seems like the same old discussion that you’ve been reading about for the past year. Those panels might very well be summaries of the ideas being discussed online in the past year, and they might very well come from the same participants!
One way to deal with this is to listen actively; to not run a firewall ruleset on all ideas coming across, destined for either ACCEPT or REJECT, but rather, to listen deeply and try to look for nuance as these ideas come across in the verbal plane, as opposed to within a feedreader. Just the change in medium is occasionally enough to spark an interesting insight from a conversation that might have been overlooked while following the written version.
Another way to approach things is to actively seek out subjects outside of your areas of knowledge, and to constantly try to extract the essence of topics panelists or speakers struggle with, and see if they can apply to other things you know about. For example, the game industry’s conversations about the future directions of storytelling are actually a close parallel of conversations we’ve been having in the realm of social media for the past few years.
I tried both of these approaches, and the result was about a quarter notebook full of notes, thoughts, new concepts, and a fleshing out of various conversations i’d like to have with the smart folks out there. But if I don’t publish, it doesn’t count for a damn thing.
So, at the suggestion of Andy Baio, i’ll be publishing a post a day with at least one crispy nugget of thought from within that notebook. This is just the introductory post – light on content, but necessary to get myself committed to the project. I hope you enjoy it, and hope you choose to participate throughout the discussion as well.
Update: First post is here! Jeez, I need to get up earlier.