I’m Lost In My Own Weeds

I got the following email from a smart entrepreneur friend I respect a lot.

I subscribe to your blog’s rss feed and read it regularly. I have a suggestion to make – it would be great if you could put a simple explanation of the many different products/technologies you plug, when you plug them.

I have to admit that I have NO idea what you are talking about or why I would be interested about 80% of the time you mention something. For example, Me.dium (which based on the stupid name, I would have no interest in exploring on my own based on your mention 🙂

Not sure if I’m your target audience or not, but I thought you should know that most of your references are opaque to at least one reader. So, while I am aware of many companies you are involved in, and the fact that you like them, I couldn’t tell you or (more importantly) anyone else, what they do.

While I don’t really have “a target audience” (I’m regularly fascinated by the spectrum of folks that read this blog), the fact that my company references are opaque to a smart, tech entrepreneur means that there’s probably some subset of you who are saying “thanks for the company pimping, but so what.”

I’ll try to do a better job of explaining why I (and you) should (or might) care.

  • This guys is just one data point, and I don't think he is a representative sample. I might not be representative either, but I find your posts about specific companies very engaging. They matter both for their technical utility and investment merit, and I think you do a good job of conveying both.

    I wouldn't mention it, but I've seen Fred's audience make suggestions that hurt his writing (like when they claimed his VC Cliche posts had jumped the shark), so I wanted to speak up lest the same happen to you.

  • My own sentiments would be the opposite. Everything’s an experiment. Pick up the hypothesis and test it.

  • Gary

    This suggestion reminds me of how the Wall Street Journal almost always defines concepts that might seem obvious to most of its readers. Whenever they mention shorting a stock, for example, they will quickly define it in about 5-10 words before moving on. I think it’s a good thing that helps accommodate new readers without being too distracting. It may actually help you refine (and possibly re-define) the way you describe your portfolio companies.

  • We all fall victim to “the curse of knowledge” –Why Ideas Stick (great book). We can get so wrapped up in tech jargon, the barrage of daily input and our own tier of knowledge that we fail to realize some people do not have the information (or vision) to spot interesting companies. Web 2.0 certainly means twice as fast this time around. We should all care about companies that change the world we live…that’s always worth a plug.

  • Interesting comments fm your reader, but I’d consider that whoever reads your posts probably has access to the Internet, and shouldn’t be thinking of the Web as TV. In this medium, you can pop out to Google (or just up to the search box if you have it on your browser) and simply type in (or cut & paste) the name of the company or product to see what it does. For you to have to tell us this may take away fm your more interesting thoughts on it and make the posts too bland. Perhaps that person is not your target audience indeed.

  • Dave

    Perhaps I’m nobody’s market but I have had this problem too – and then I click through to the company or product and THEY don’t explain it EITHER! It does depend on your audience – whether you’re looking to reach blogosphoids who follow the web 2.0 world closely, or a more general audience.

    The reader’s comment above about the WSJ is a good one – it’s good journalistic practice to explain things a general audience wouldn’t necessarily know.