Stock and Flow
Some clear, sensible, extremely practical suggestions on balancing production (via). It’s a problem — tractable in principle, but tricky, and easy to get wrong — that a lot of people are working at right now, NRx very much included. I’ve not seen it stated with such conceptual elegance before now.
… stock and flow is the master metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:
* Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.
* Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.
I feel like flow is ascendant these days, for obvious reasons — but we neglect stock at our own peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audience and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a treadmill, and you can’t spend all of your time running on the treadmill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: Oh man. I’ve got nothing here. […] But I’m not saying you should ignore flow …
NRx epitomizes the problem. It’s been through a phase of excited flow, but the question of stock-building is becoming unavoidable. Correct too hard, and the current dies altogether. Fail to correct at all, and nothing gets built. Every time I see someone burn out of Twitter, it looks to me as if the stock-flow balance problem has claimed another casualty. At least, that’s what I now realize I’ve been seeing.