The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Writers Gonna Write

The availability of new publishing platforms is good news. Truly. But a comment I made yesterday could be taken in a manner I did not intend. I said:

Publishing platforms are fine, tools lacking friction even better, but the platform/tool does not make the writer.

A few friends called out my thinking (always a good thing) and presented their beliefs that platforms can be enablers, giving people an ability they previously did not have. And in that sense, I agree. One of these friends is working on a new service that aims to improve communications. I applaud their efforts and look forward to seeing the fruit of their work.

What I disagree with are absolutist statements. Ones that place too much credit for good or bad on the platform itself. I'll pick on my buddy, Jared Erondu, editor of The Industry. He had this to say about Dustin Curtis's Svbtle network:

read @SvbtleNetwork. That is all.

His sentiment isn't surprising. Curtis started Svbtle to help people get the focus back on quality writing. And, as I stated in my tweet, tools that remove friction are a positive. And that's an understatement from a guy who loves well designed software.

But tools can only go so far. In the end, it comes down the writer. In writing, the friction that has to be dealt with the most is that which takes place in your head. Not from your tools. A good writer can change thoughts, opinions and even worlds, regardless of the tool or platform used.

The reverse is true. A few years back, there was a vein of thought that Tumblr and like tools made it too easy for people to publish content, and most of it is mindless drivel. And for some reason, people want to blame the platform. I refuted that idea in like manner:

With a current emphasis on minimalist computing and devices that remove friction, placing the blame of bad content on the publishing tool is misguided at best. The onus is on the content producer — period.

Again, the tool is only as good or bad as the hand wielding it. Good writing can certainly be found on the Svbtle network, but many articles there could use some quality editing as well. The same will be true for Medium, Branch or any other tool that comes available.

Articulating thoughts into the written word in a straightforward and pleasing way is hard work. Good tools can help, but only so much.

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