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Time is the currency of information

Sometime last week, Paul Lewis announced he had more “followers” than the Independent newspaper had “readers”.

I thought that telling.

I read the Indy, but mainly from @simonread ‘s tweets and I probably read more BBC stuff through @paulewismoney than from browsing its website

In fact, I’m now down to about 15 news peddlers who supply me with the feeds I need to keep abreast of my essential information. They include a couple of Government departments, a handful of journalists and a few mavens such as @robertgardner  and @pensionsmonkey and @josephinecumbo

There are about 3000 people who I follow and will contribute to the core feeds and I’m sure as soon as I finish this article, I’ll be adding a few more names to the mavens list (because such lists always offend those not on them more than they relieve those who are).

Of course Paul and Rob and Tom are Jo are not being purely altruistic. They are all on various steps of a ladder towards some kind of maven magnificence where @mashable and the super-mavens hang out. Or put it language that Micky Clarke would understand- they (we) want to become the go to person for the stuff they’re selling.

Which is really no different from hiring someone to stand with a billboard on the mall when your shop is down an ally. If you’re the little man and there’s a big fat FT or Guardian or BBC gravatar to compete with.

In this digital landscape we need some definitions of our job roles- so here are my three

New definitions

The Maven

I like the word “maven” which Wiki describes as a

“trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from Hebrew, and means one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge”

The Oracle

I also like the word “oracle” where the comparable definition is

“a person or agency considered to interface …. literally meaning “voice from the sky””

Although Larry Ellison has rather bagsied the commercial definition , the Oracle still seem the spiritual upgrade that mavens can aspire to- (give them a gourd for gaw’d sake). @mashable and Martin Lewis are my Oracles – when they speak, I click and usually click into action.


There are a whole load of other roles you could give people- I was always fond of Philoctetes- the guy with the smelly foot who was banished to an island of his own in the med from where he delivered malevolence (you know the type) and there’s the agony aunt and a whole legion of smart-arse commentators who make their fame from defaming others- this lot can be consigned to my media Rm 101.

The Editors

Our role as recipients of the maven’s munificence and the Oracle’s oratory, is as editors. But whereas with terrestrial newsstands – we choose what we pay for -with the digital newsstands, we edit out the noise we don’t want. Cutting unwanted noise from your twitter feed, de-linking and spamming unwanted mail are now necessary parts of our daily function, our timelines and inboxes demand our constant editing

Only mavens make it to my “messages” and only oracles to my inbox!

Time is the currency!

Our gift is our time- all else in this digital world is free. The FT may think it is able to charge for content, but heh- I’ve just got a three month subscription which I am determined to roll forever. We don’t even have to pay for porn anymore for Chris sakes! Because there are enough extroverts to feed the introverts, the web provides a pretty well perfect market.

So if you are looking to create a newsletter from the 500 people in your contact list/ digital campaign/Facebook likers or whatever, perhaps you should ask yourself.

  1. Is there any chance I will ever be a Maven (let along an Oracle)?

  2. Am I simply making work for the Editors?

  3. Am I wasting my time and that of others?

Believe it or not, I am asking myself this question before I post. Because every time you don’t leave a mark on the web you miss an opportunity, and every time you do, you impact your chances of being read next time.

Unless you are incredibly accurate, you will get it wrong 20% of the time- you will lose followers and you will see your social influence diminish (quite literally if you follow Klout).

“Our gift is our time” – thank you for yours.

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