: Fred Wilson (second link today) talks about fully baked vs. half-baked blog posts. I prefer half-baked.
Fully baked is a lecture or a book or a show. It says, “I’m done. Eat what I tell you.”
Half-baked is a conversation. It says, “Join in. Add some pepperoni before it’s done, make it better, make it right for you. Enjoy.”
Old media necessitated fully baked thought and expression: You had to “finish” it and get it “right” before you used precious paper, production, and distribution and you couldn’t go back and do it over again; you couldn’t rethink.
New media allows half-baked notions to be distributed and shared and improved upon and rethought.
At the end of the day, I believe, the half-baked approach will end up with better thought, thanks to the conversation.
Of course, quality is still a factor. A stupid notion, whether fully or half-baked, is still a stupid notion and no amount of remixing or baking can fix it. Bad sauce makes bad pizzas.
And, of course, as a writer myself, I don’t mean to say that everything should be a committee product (in fact, what I like best about blogging is that there isn’t an editor standing between me and you, my real editors). I don’t want to read a novel written by committee. I’ve seen many a movie and TV show and magazine story wrecked by too much collaboration. Yes, the individual’s voice and viewpoint and talent still has value and too many chefs can ruin the broth.
But what’s interesting about this notion of fully v. half-baked is that it addresses an assumption behind all media, an essential snobbery that, by necessity, got cooked into old media: The limitations of old production and distribution — the fact that someone owned the printing press and paid for the paper and would not allow anything to get onto that paper until it fit his definition of baked — meant that we all thought something wasn’t good or right until it was declared done by someone with the power to do so: The tyranny of the chef.
But when you think about it, that attitude reveals such hubris: believing that a thought can ever be done, that one author or one editor can know more than all their readers is so egotistical.
That is the essential attitude shift that must happen in media, especially news media: Discussion is often more intelligent than content. Paraphrasing Dan Gillmor, the audience knows more than the author.
Once we in big media stop acting as if we can fully bake anything, as if we know best, as if we are the only authorities, as if we’re finished and the story is done when it’s printed, then the public we serve should stop shooting at us when we screw up. If we provide valuable reporting and experience and resources but admit we’re human and are not the final authority, if we join in the conversation that’s already going on around us — the remixing of our news, the baking of it — then both we and the public we serve can learn the real value of collaboration.
In the end, itreally is just a simple attitude shift: It says that when we publish something, we know it’s not fully baked; we expect it to be debated and challenged and remixed and improved; we welcome that.
Half-baked is better.
: Hey, commenters, don’t get too literal about “half-baked,” as if it means numbskulled. It’s Fred’s creative wording and I like it and it’s not to say that one puts out numbskulled ideas. It says that any idea we put out is likely to be unfinished and the key is admitting that.