Stock and Flow

I just love this article/post Stock and Flow from Robin Sloan at Snarkmarket. I have been trying to put my finger on a way to articulate how modern media and content works today and struggled to find the best way to sum it up. I think this article does this very effectively.

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.

This really hit home for me. In the article, Robin takes the simple economics metaphor of stock, the amount of “money in the bank”, and flow “the rate of change” and applies it to modern online and social media. So services like Twitter and Facebook are the “flow” and things like blogs and publishing are the stock. Yes, sites such as Twitter are interesting and have changed the landscape, but this approach just reinforces to me that blogs and the development of sustainable articles, applications, and services are just as critical to the modern media landscape.

Via Kottke

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