Memos of the Future is a prototype media publication focused on the future implications of edge technologies. When I began exploring the idea, I found that most media publications focusing on Futurism were either whimsical in nature or run on clickbait oriented business models. I’m testing whether or not a publication can be launched to include rich content that can be monetized in different ways.
My original goal was to produce long form essays on a variety of topics. This format isn’t common and represents an opportunity to produce both broad and deep analysis on edge topics. Long form technology writing is what I want to do, it represents an opportunity for me to learn deeply on topics I find interesting and produce my distilled learning for others to benefit from. The challenge I am experiencing is orienting the content in a way that is digestible in one or two sittings max.
The first long form essay I attempted, What are Smart Cities?, was a strong first start but ultimately had real structural flaws to the content. With nearly 100 views in the first three days, the average reading length was only 30 seconds. As such, most of the content was missed on the 12 minute essay. This represents a problem with gauging interest in the content unless I am able to write more compelling entry openings.
Since writing the first essay, I have moved on to research and production of the 2nd version of the prototype. In this version, I am focusing on IoT and aim to limit the essay to a maximum of 1,500 words or roughly a 6 minute read. This is a result of seeing data on the 6 to 7 minute essays being the optimism reading time according to Medium data analytics. I made this choice aware of the tradeoffs and compromise it means for the ultimate publication goal of broad and deep content. It’s not really possible to go broad and deep on an edge topic in 1,500 words. None-the-less, my main priority is getting content in front of an audience as quick as possible to gauge interest and iterate quickly with a captive audience. Prolific production over tinkering with longer form essays. (I do intend to return to longer forms once I’ve cultivated some sense of whether or not the topics are of interest).
So I’ve developed a method to working with these numbers as opposed to fighting them. It’s a hub and spoke concept that uses several main hub idea essays to introduce and connect other deep concepts in secondary essays. Using this strategy, I should be able to cover both broad and deep content while limiting the length of my essays. This will also mean that when a hub topic is posted, several secondary spoke topics will need to be concurrently posted before moving on to another hub topic.
This was a difficult decision to make. Having written the first version of this new “hub” model and editing the essay has me questioning whether or not this fits the overall vision. 1,500 words on a Hub topic seems more like a click bait article than the rich content I am working to prototype. With that said, I am committed to trying to the Hub and Spoke model for some time especially because it will help me build content quickly on the Medium publication.
My hypothesis is that this type of strategy will have create network effect as it grows. The more content on the publication, ie: the more hub and spokes I am able to add and the more in depth I can cultivate, the greater the value of the publication to readers. Each Hub acting like a network node of interest grabbing a potentially new set of eyes to view the broader publication. This will only work with prolific content production. That will be an unsustainable process without a proper content calendar and prioritization strategies for production.
More to come on that tomorrow.