Orchestrate All The Things: Owning Tech, Data, Media, AI, Writing, and Content
On AI-generated content, writing, new, old, and broken media, platforms, models, audiences, and body parts.
Why do so many people want to be writers? That’s the kind of question SEO-optimized content is generated for. I for one did not, at least not in the romanticized way many people think about writing. But when i was given the opportunity to have my byline appear in the mainstream media, i took it. It was in 2016, and it changed things.
I had no idea where that path would take me, but I have not regretted it for a second. I thought it would just mean adding one last part to an already long LinkedIn headline: Analyst, Consultant, Engineer, Founder, Host, Researcher, Writer. I was wrong.
First, having a mainstream media byline is more than an opportunity: it also asks for lots of responsibility and work. It made me grow, develop and systematize new and existing skills. For example, keeping track of endless streams of information. Developing a sense of what’s timely, important, and resonant, and how to best share it with the audience. Plus i got to know, and be known by, tons of interesting people.
And it wasn’t just the “Writer” part that was added. I got to be hosting my own podcast and event as a byproduct of writing. Even though i never felt that being a writer defines me, apparently it has become what most people have come to know me as. Understandably so, as this work has a lot of exposure.
I have been covering topics related to Data, Analytics and Data Science, AI and Machine Learning, Innovation, Graphs, as well as a wide array of technologies such as Blockchain, Cloud, Observability, IoT, Open Data, Social Media and Software Engineering.
The connection between data, analytics, data science, graphs, machine learning and AI and their importance soon became obvious to me. Over time, these technologies became a key part of my coverage. That resonated with people, including editors, which is why i got invited to work with more media outlets too. But in 2022, things changed again.
Writing, mainstream media and AI
In late 2022, a couple of things happened at the same time. First, AI broke into the mainstream with ChatGPT. Second, the outlets i worked with notified me they would not be needing my contribution in the immediate future. Nothing to do with me, i was told: mergers, economic downturn, churn, restructuring etc – the usual.
Even though I’ve worked with some great people in media, I was never under the impression that it’s a thriving, smoothly operating industry. It’s part of the reason why i never stopped wearing my other hats besides “Writer”. While the timing is remarkable, and unfortunate, i don’t see an obvious connection between AI’s break into the mainstream and me losing my front-row media seat.
But i do think that the media industry is getting harder and harder to navigate, and it doesn’t look like the rise of generative AI will help. You may have seen the reports about AI-generated content on the media, for example. I had seen signs of this before it broke in the mainstream.
When someone asked me what i thought of a publication he was approached by, my immediate reaction was that a good part of their content looked like it was written by a bot. We’ll be seeing more of this, and it’s just one aspect of the disruption we’ll all be experiencing. The “enshittification” of content is real, and it will get worse.
I maintain that “content” and “writing” are not the same thing. And i have other things keeping me busy too – writing a book, for example. But i hear the frustration of many writers and content creators. Not everyone out there is looking for authentic and thoughtful writing, plus the type of content that Generative AI can produce is not just text.
New media, timeless ideas and POSSE
I won’t lie: i missed having a platform. Mainstream media are not the end all obviously. I also use social media and content platforms, and they can work just as well or even better. But i never really had an effective strategy for building and managing my own platform and audience. Enter POSSE.
POSSE is an abbreviation for Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. Even though the term may be new to many, the idea is not. It’s the practice of posting content on your own site first, then publishing copies or sharing links to third parties like social media or content publishing platforms.
Social media and content platforms are great for sharing, resharing and discovering new content. They can also help engage with people. But they are not so great for creating content, and they’re pretty bad in search and retention. They will try to monetize you, and can do as they please with your account, content and data: shady algorithms, arbitrary policies and decisions.
The fact that the Web is being swallowed by social media and other platforms has made people neglect the importance of owning content. I think that’s wrong, and POSSE fixes this. POSSE lets creators retain control of their content while enabling discovery and interaction to happen where the audience is.
POSSE is simple, but hard. You need to have a good site and CMS. You need to find a way to seamlessly post across platforms and media. You need to build a presence on your platforms of choice. You need a strategy, knowledge, consistency, energy, resources, and who has the time for that? But in 2023, things changed again.
The Orchestrate All The Things Newsletter, platforms and social media
In early 2023, a couple of things happened. First, i started my POSSE journey. Second, I suffered what’s probably every baller’s worst nightmare on the court: a torn achilles. It’s the kind of injury that means you’re out of luck and stuck for a while. You have to do surgery and then go through a long period of recovery and rehab. This, and a little help from AI, drove me towards POSSE.
Today i’m launching the Orchestrate all the Things Newsletter, as well as some new ways to connect and share my work. Stories about how Technology, Data, AI and Media flow into each other shaping our lives. Analysis, Essays, Interviews and News. Mid-to-long form, 1-3 times per month. Plus audio and video – read on!
The Orchestrate all the Things Newsletter has everything I’ve been writing about, all in one place. Browsable, searchable, categorized, and straight to your inbox.
Many of my pieces have a technical focus. Most also examine business perspectives and use cases, while others are socio-technical. Some pieces are analyses on emerging themes – picking them up early, featuring expert comment, or offering alternative takes. Others cover breaking news, typically also featuring the people behind them plus some analysis. There are some book reviews as well.
The Orchestrate all the Things Newsletter is the best way to keep up with my work. But if you prefer Substack or Medium, i’m there too. Twitter and LinkedIn? Sure. RSS? Yes please! Plus HackerNoon and DZone. Not into reading articles? No problem.
The Orchestrate all the Things Podcast is where you can find my conversations with with people who bring interesting news and views to the table. Going forward, you will be able to find AI-narrated versions of my articles there too. You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple & Google Podcasts, Amazon Music and more.
If you are more of a visual type, Orchestrate all the Things has got you covered too. AI-visualized and narrated versions of my articles will also be available on Instagram, Pinterest, Tik Tok and YouTube. The podcast backlog and new episodes will also be shared on YouTube.
Going forward and friendly AI
Expanding to new platforms is a conscious effort to reach new audiences. We’ve reached a time when my friends ask me about ChatGPT and i see articles about AI in lifestyle magazines. It hardly gets more mainstream than this, and that audience needs to be reached in a different way.
I’ve been using AI apps for a long time. I also experimented with some new AI models and applications. I think AI is fair game for things such as transcription, summarization and generating audio or video narratives from text. I understand why some people use it for idea generation, and why others shy away from AI-generated images, but I digress.
The most important thing remains what to write about and how to do it. I won’t commit to frequent updates. What i can commit to is thoughtfulness, and a couple of articles already in the pipeline: on the latest developments in AI (the Pause, x.ai and whether “scale is all you need“), on my “What’s New in AI” work with O’Reilly, and on writing the Personal Knowledge Graph book.
If you have ideas for things you’d like to see me cover, feel free to contact me. It’s possible that i’ll make a comeback on mainstream media at some point, in which case editors will have their say too. Either way, Orchestrate all the Things will remain the canonical hub for my work. It took more than some disruption to get there, but sometimes that’s what it takes.