February 21, 2017

A Year Of The Iceberg

Today is The Iceberg’s 1 year anniversary! This post is called “A Year of The Iceberg”, but that’s kind of misleading. Mostly because I don’t know if I can say it’s been a year. Sure, I first launched theiceberg.cool 366 calendar days ago, but it hasn’t been that many days of content, or thinking, or planning, or even any progress at all really. I’m simultaneously very proud of what I’ve done and also a very disappointed. So this post is only partially about what The Iceberg is after a year; it’s also about what it isn’t (and why), and hopefully about what it will be a year from now.

I. High hopes, glacial paces

The Iceberg is an idea that I had in my had for 2-3 years before ever making it. It languished for a long time, slowly solidifying as I collected more content and tried to identify the common threads, what would become its ethos. I struggled with what form it would take as the Internet media landscape changed rapidly underneath it. It was a blog, then a twitter account, a limited newsletter, a podcast; it went back and forth between being none of those things and being all of those things. When I finally launched it was burning with potential. I started writing posts every week, planning future weeks and special events, scouring the Internet for more. People would even email me to send me things. I wanted to do everything I could with it.

II. Content is hard, yo

I started running out of things to post fast though. I had built up this gigantic backlog but the posts weren’t all equal in quality, and I wasn’t finding new things as fast as I was writing. I was getting bored with the format, too. Every post contained a teaser, I tried my best at writing what would be enticing and introductory at the same time, but really I just wanted the thing to speak for itself. Writing got harder, and I wasn’t finding as much that hadn’t been touched on before or felt at least a little bit stale. The inadequacy that was the most straining was the lack of original content. I could link to other people’s sites all day but in the end that doesn’t build a brand or an audience. The Iceberg didn’t get around on social media because there was nothing to see there, just a homepage. Things started to feel personalityless and disjointed. I had ideas for original content too! A book review, because there were books I had read that I couldn’t really link to. Interviews with people, longform stories, research. But that stuff is hard to prototype or do quickly, and moreso, hard to make repeatable. Fundamentally, I was puzzled at the paradox of how to make things regular and repeatable when the very reason they were interesting was because they were unique, niche, unexpected.

III. So what’s next?

I was under the impression that the best way to go about building the site would be to keep a regular pace. Have a weekly, predictable schedule, and people will come back. But I could reconcile that with what the site needed to be, which is in a way, fundamentally unrepeatable: something so special that it just floors you as soon as you see it. I got so caught up in this conflict that I stopped posting for 4 months. So I’m switching to a new way of thinking about The Iceberg, a model that values quality over quantity. Really it’s not that different, it’s thinking about regularity in a different way. New posts won’t come out predictably or regularly but when they do I will throw all of my weight behind them, and hopefully they’ll pack one hell of a punch. I’m going to be experimenting more with forms. I have a podcast episode recorded that isn’t edited yet, but I’m excited to get that out. I was waiting for myself to record more, but forget that. There might only ever be one podcast. That’s okay. As long as it’s interesting. And I think that philosophy is going to drive a lot of the content I put out in the coming months. So look out for that.