Self-expression on the internet: a hybrid approach?

The internet should help you express yourself easily and ensure you have control over the content and quality of your writings. But is that possible?

The internet has always been called the great platform for self-expression. The claim goes that you no longer need to be talented and lucky enough to get your work into a book or newspaper or magazine; anyone can publish anything to the internet, and if it’s good enough, it can get found.

It’s definitely true that the cost of self-expression has gone down with the internet, so people are much more likely and able to use it to publish their ideas. (The idea of economic cost, or amount of effort it takes to do something, is a very powerful one, by the way. When it gets easier to do something, that thing explodes in popularity. It’s pretty self-evident, but it’s a powerful way of looking at things like the rise of self-expression with the internet.)

There are two main ways of publishing content online:

  • Publishing independently (making your own platform)
  • Using someone else’s platform (hosted publishing)

Both of these fall short of the goal of allowing for easy self-publishing. I think, though, that there’s room for a hybrid that would bring the best of both.

On “social” media, weak ties, and Snapchat stories

How social media is designed to help you build relationships with acquaintances, and why Snapchat (yes, that Snapchat) is the most effective social media platform

It was late enough that I’d stopped thinking for the night, so I proudly proclaimed to my nearby friends that I was getting a Snapchat account. It had always struck me as a bit vapid and narcissistic – you’re swapping carefully-chosen selfies with others to try and win favor – but I figured I’d give it a go.

But I quickly learned that Snapchat, like any other social media platform, gives rise to a number of use cases that the creators probably never intended. (For instance, Twitter probably never foresaw that it would contribute to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.) What I saw was this: Snapchat and other social media platforms are surprisingly effective ways to grow and maintain your network of weak ties (acquaintances) by reducing the costs of communication and increasing the number of “hooks,” or chances to strike up conversation, you have. All social media can do this, but Snapchat, by its very nature, is the king of this.

So much for IPOs

As you probably remember, the professional networking (no other way to describe it) site LinkedIn went public in May under the symbol LNKD. Its IPO (initial public offering, or first release of shares in the stock market) was valued $45 per share. Later that day, LinkedIn shares were trading at $122.

LinkedIn's logo
LinkedIn's IPO was hyped, but did it work?

LinkedIn closed at $94 per share, with a volume of 30 million shares. Not bad for a day’s work. (News article.)