free research without subcontracting to India


Clive Thompson likes to talk about how his blog-readers continually give him high-value information or background research, for free, which makes him a faster, better writer.

Psh, yeah, I thought. That’s only works if you’re Clive effing Thompson. I wrote it off as the internet-famous equivalent of starf*cking — “maybe Clive will pay attention to me/validate me/link to my blog if I get his attention by doing his work for him!” (Yes, I can be that cynical.)

Well, I take that back. People do genuinely want to give you valuable information sometimes, expecting nothing in return. It just happened to me, and god knows I can’t use “fame” to explain it.

This nice man recently handed me not just a great idea for an article, but tips on who to interview and an exhaustive collection of background articles curated in a Basecamp page. In addition to being grateful, I was also kind of shocked, because he’s a writer himself.

The funny thing is, now I feel that much more motivated to not just sell this piece, but knock it out of the park… because otherwise I’ll just feel like I let this guy down.


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