Learning Writing

Foraging for insights

Alicia Kennedy describes gleaning insights, but foraging feels better as a metaphor for me.

Foraging is also the metaphor the lead in Uprooted uses to describe her approach to magic: that no one gets to the good spot for berries the exact same way every time, that you need to pay attention to the landscape and think about what feels like the right way to go.

Kennedy separately describes her approach to writing on a topic:

By mess, I don’t mean something like a spill on the floor to be mopped up, nor do I mean an entangled mass of cords to untie. I mean starting from a place of curiosity, of unknowing, on one subject and following all the places it leads.

This feels akin to foraging, where you don’t know exactly what you’ll find, but if you’re hoping for chanterelles you’ll start looking where you’ve found them before, or ask a friend for a tip, but if you come home with fresh nettles you’re happy as well. (I wouldn’t be pleased about eating nettles myself, but when I went foraging with a friend he was 😉)

By the time I sit down to write a short essay, specifically, I will ideally not look at my notes except briefly and I will go back to texts for specific quotes—the need for the quotes will basically burst into the text as I go.

On encountering the same concept again and again:

…it seems like my research is telling me something, like I’m onto something, like these threads I’m grasping about the everyday in the endless work of a writing life (of an artist’s life) are leading to something…

Entrepreneurship Marketing

Marketing as gardening

Bookmarked Strategic Digital Gardening by Willa Köerner (Google Docs)

How could you treat your marketing as a digital garden you look forward to tending each day?

How could you treat your digital marketing as a luscious garden that your community wants to spend time in?

How could you treat your digital marketing as an ecosystem that you cultivate?

This is a different conception of digital gardens than I’m used to, but still an intriguing approach for marketing 🙂

Fertilize > plant seeds > harvest > cultivate > pollinate

  • For a given goal, identify seeds to plant in your community
  • Look for storytelling opportunities in work you’re already doing to help plant those ideas
  • “Plant flowers where you can see them” — think about places you already have good experiences online and how you could “privilege those spaces”
  • Consider what it feels like for people to walk through your digital garden, and why they’d like to visit
Art and Design Culture Places

Carcinization of the built and visual environment

Bookmarked The age of average by Written By Alex Murrell (

This article argues that from film to fashion and architecture to advertising, creative fields have become dominated and defined by convention and cliché. Distinctiveness has died. In every field we look at, we find that everything looks the same.

Welcome to the age of average.

Like so many body forms converge on the shape of the crab, under the selective pressures of capitalism and efficiency, so too do buildings become the same, cars become the same, movies become the same.

When independent actors are all operating under the same selective pressures — aerodynamics and regulations and manufacturing constraints for cars, zoning and building codes for architecture, attracting a certain demographic for AirBnBs — convergence seems nearly assured. When a formula works, whether that’s the design of a coffee shop or the makeup techniques for a particular look, there’s little incentive to expand beyond that assurance of at least mediocrity.

Familiarity is another selective pressure. It’s as if there are a handful of uber-“brand” aesthetics that companies merely need to hitch themselves to — mimicking existing successful design becomes a shortcut to tie that business into the entire ecosystem marketing to that demographic. From that perspective, standing out could be bad.

See also:

What do Places give us?

The Homogeneity of Millenial Design


Genre is a conversation

Quoted On “Prose-Forward” Writing and the Pleasures of Different Genre Conversations by Lincoln Michel (Counter Craft)

My preferred metaphor for genres (and I include literary fiction here), is that they are conversations. Great long-running conversations between authors alive and dead, and also between readers and critics… As with any groups, these conversations develop their own jargon. Their own in-jokes, references, and concerns. Some books speak only to one conversation. Other books to multiple ones.

The Internet

The continents of the Internet

Quoted Do fans actually want to monetize? by Allegra Rosenberg (Garbage Day)

Undeniably, the internet has a biogeography all its own — a landscape of human settlements distributed according to resources and infrastructure.  Digital borders are determined by commercial choices and complicated by user resistance; migrations from platform to platform affect the emotional landscape of communities as they fracture and shift. Metaphors like continental drift, erosion, and fault lines can be useful in trying to visualize the evolution of online trends. 

I’m thinking of mapping the many types of divisions of the internet like layers in GIS: the interests layer stacked on the demographics layer stacked on the site/silo layer.