I stopped updating this website for a while. I wanted to look at why that happened, what was good about my ideas for DDB, what wasn’t so good, how I can improve and what I want to do next.
What was my original goal?
I decided to try to document and categorise articles I read about disinformation. I wanted to learn more about disinformation, and maybe make something that was good. I think having lots of real-world articles to reference when looking at disinformation concepts could be helpful, and maybe we could see trends or something eventually?
What went well?
I did succeed in learning about disinformation; this was a good way to achieve that goal. I found lots of new sources and I’m still benefiting from that.
What didn’t go so well?
When I started this I wanted to apply First Draft’s “Types of Disinformation” to real world categories which I found from Full Fact. This was a small, achievable goal (but if I’d stayed doing that I wouldn’t have learned too much). I expanded to wanting to read articles from lots of different sources, research from proper journals, videos, and more; all while writing my own stuff.
When I fell behind on my list of articles to read I really fell behind; it turns out there’s just as much information overload related to disinformation as there is to anything else? Certainly more produced every day than one person can reasonably handle finding, reading, and categorising while doing a good job of it. I think this would still be a good project to do, but I’d need some other people contributing too.
I also really wanted to avoid falling into the trap of ‘this must be perfect’, but I totally did! I wrote some things I’m still proud of, but I think I thought of this site as too much of a potential career or even a portfolio for me, and that stopped me from being able to put things up that were ok, or even not well though out. I also got demoralised when the only people reading the stuff were the friends and family I emotionally coerced into doing so, and one visitor from china every day for some reason. I also discovered I couldn’t share the things I write here with my professional network while with my current employer, so that was a bummer.
Of course I should have been ready for nobody reading this stuff; I don’t have an existing audience and couldn’t think of a good way to build one. I’m unfortunately fuelled by external validation, and I’m one of those furnaces made in the 1900s that’s very, very fuel inefficient. You have to toil away shovelling compliment after compliment into my gaping maw to get enough energy for a little smile. Expending lots of effort on something that didn’t return many validation was hard; nice things fall out of my head like water through a sieve. Difficult things stick around like, you know, a solid on a sieve. One example of this is how my “things that went well” section is a sentence, and the “things that went wrong” section is an essay (and honestly I’m pretty proud that I was able to write a nice kind sentence about myself).
Overwhelmed by falling behind on articles: I want to keep learning about disinformation; that was fun! And categorising articles was a good method too. What wasn’t good was finding stuff I wanted to read and texting / emailing it to myself, and feeling stressed about all the unread notifications. So I’m going to make some way to add ‘uncategorised’ articles to the DDB, so that I can eventually get around to reading them and getting them in properly. Hopefully this means I can quickly read stuff that’s interesting, instead of feeling like I need to be ready to categorise and not reading it.
Perfectionism: I’m just going to relax and use my own voice more; I want to create good things but I probably need to create some OK and maybe even rubbish things before I can do that. This is my first one; rambly naval gazing to myself and posting it online. This is as close to leaking my own diary as I can get. Hopefully one day I make something useful! That’s still the dream.
Making something useful: If I don’t have the general goal of collecting and cataloguing everything ever written about disinformation, what am I doing with this website? My next idea is I want to make a version of Mitre Att&ck but for disinformation. It’s been really useful for Threat Intelligence teams (which is the industry the human person writing this might or might not work in), and maybe it will also be useful for disinformation people.