I like to signal boost. I think it can be very worthwhile to amplify voices, especially if I’m directing them to a new audience. I like making connections, especially weird ones. Sometimes I hear or see something that I find valuable or interesting, and I’m struck with the idea that because it’s unusual for me, it’s likely also unusual for my peer group. By nature, we’ll tend to have our immediate “signal range” mostly consist of people in our fields and circles – that means my “signal range” has a lot of entrepreneurs, startup people, HR people, and social scientists in it. It doesn’t have a lot of mycologists, so if I see a cool thing about mushrooms, I’m apt to share it.
I’m actually less apt to share things that directly relate to my own tight interests. I tend to be pickier about what I share when it relates to my own sphere. I like being right, especially when it matters, so I carefully examine things where I have the expertise to do so before sharing, since sharing something also sort of amounts to an implicit “vouching for” that thing, unless you explicitly state otherwise.
So when it comes to things I hear and see, I like to be very broad. I like to absorb a lot of information on a lot of different topics. Surface-level stuff to be sure, but still, it keeps me as aware as I can be of just how large and awesome the world is. On the other hand, I try to make sure that the things people hear and see from me are much more specific and vetted. I don’t mind talking about topics where I don’t have expert knowledge, but I try to make it super clear when that’s the case so I can leave my ego at the door, and other people can see it. If people see that you don’t have a vested interest in defending any particular piece of information as gospel, they’re more likely to engage with you as a teacher, and I love that.
Recently someone told me that they shared certain posts from this blog with friends of theirs. In addition to feeling overwhelmingly flattered at this, it also gave me a strong sense of responsibility all of a sudden. When I’m just writing this for myself, pretty much my only criteria is that I’m honest. I don’t have to be wise, or inspiring, or funny. Just honest.
When other people read it, I figure, that’s okay too. I hope they get something out of it, but you can look at stuff and not necessarily endorse or even enjoy it. I could read Mein Kampf without embracing it.
But as soon as I hand Mein Kampf to someone else and say “here, you should read this,” suddenly we’re in a whole new world. Now I’m spreading that knowledge. I’m boosting the signal. Implicitly endorsing it, unless I’m going out of my way to say, “you should read this for the sake of seeing the totally worst way to think about stuff.” (I hope that’s not what the person who shared this blog did, but the possibility exists.)
So the fact that I’ve apparently crossed over that threshold from my own personal journal into something people actually share as a possible source of valuable information means… I should start charging! Ha, I kid. But it does mean I should be aware of it.
I don’t know that much else would change. I’m already honest and I don’t intend to not be. I don’t intend to change the nature of what I write about; the primary audience for this blog will always be me. But it might mean that I pay more attention to making this archive accessible – maybe start using tags more for ease of people finding the thing they like best. Maybe I’ll even put together a sort of index in the new year – sounds like a good New Month’s Resolution for January.
One of the biggest changes I’ll make is this – I’ll actually ask you to share. I’ll accept that maybe, just maybe, there’s something in here worth reading and that someone beyond my own signal range could stand to read it. I’ll ask anyone who reads to be as critical as I am when it comes to what you share, and share only the things you think are worth the boost. But share away if it meets the criteria – and always share new things with me, because I always want to read them.