More Time Shifting – A Quest for Longer Essays

2008-02-10 to 2008-03-11, esp 2008-02-24

When I introduced Naked Javascript, I talked a bit about my difficulties with Javascript in general – some nice things going on, but the implementation that got standardized is a little half baked. Then I thought of several things which I forgot to mention, and made a second post. later I thought of yet more things, but I didn’t make another post. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

While I might claim that my recent attempt to discuss the merits and faults of Javascript could be chalked up to sickness, meandering writings have been an unfortunate trend of late. One after another, a storm of ideas gets put off, and off, and off again. By the time I get down to writing about it, I’ve forgotten half of it and end with a little tiny post that peters out with an unexciting whimper.

We’ve got (at least) two problems here: 1. short, boring posts, which are 2. probably due in no small part to procrastination. I actually hadn’t thought about that second part before, but let’s push that on the stack for a moment. and talk about the content problem.

A while back, I saw someone writing that long blogs are better. It’s based on a very simple idea: small blogs don’t stick. They fit in short term memory. You have to ramble on long enough to blow your reader’s stack and force them to start swapping your ideas out to longer term memory.

I’m not going to be belabor that point. There’s a very long post about it if you’re interested. If you want to go read it, a few of my ideas are on the stack, so it might work just as well ;^)

Consequently, I’m going to be aiming for meatier articles. Something with, perhaps, a little more content than your average powerpoint slide. (Perhaps that’s aiming too low ;^) Would comparing some of my previous posts to a list of tenuously connected bullet points be a little too harsh?) Anyway, before I get into how I plan to accomplish this, we’ll have to return the memory problem for a bit.

As a simplification, let us say that any piece of writing has to begin with an idea. The idea is then subject to the forces such as expansion, connection, and forgetfulness. If the idea makes it into writing, that writing has to be done at some time. Lets break it down into a fairly conventional three periods.

If the writing is done ‘at first blush’, it can benefit from the initial energy and enthusiasm. The writer is still within the first avalanche of connection and expansion, so the ideas flow fast and easy, probably helped along by the writing process. Unfortunately, the ideas also aren’t mature, and many of the elaborations won’t occur right way.

If the writing is done a little later, the ideas can benefit from a little development. Unfruitful branches will have been trimmed away, but few possibilities may have also been forgotten, and others may not yet be fully explored. All and all it’s not a bad time, but some later elaboration by still be necessary to get the complete picture.

If the writing is done much later, there probably won’t be a whole lot needs to be added later – except perhaps the things that were forgotten (if you were lucky enough to remember them again) There has been greater opportunity for connection, discussion, and perhaps even some application and results, with the benefits of reflection.

What I’m going to try to do is get the best of all these worlds. Write something down as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to change it. Continuously update as time and thought permit. Keep working at it until the ideas settle down reach a coherent form, and all the threads pan out (or die off).

Of course, I can’t get stopped up on one idea if I’m going to get everything started right way – I’m going to be keeping a couple of pots boiling at once. I’ve got almost a dozen of them so far – if you haven’t seen anything except Disk Clock updates lately (not all that unusual, really…) it’s because the lead time underwent a discontinuous change, not because there is nothing to say.

Now I’ve just got that procrastination issue to address (remember that?) Conceptually I’ve already addressed it by saying that getting something written down in the earliest stages is essential to help combat ‘oops, I forgot one thing…’ Now there is just that small matter of the difference between saying and doing. My writing cache so far is mostly filled with a few short paragraphs and bullet points; I was actually worried worried about this article itself getting off to a weak start, but it seems to be growing up somewhat nicely, so there is hope.

So, I guess it’s been more than a minute. My lesson for the day is don’t put off writing stuff down. As for that Javascript thread, it will be back, probably recovering most of the same ground for the sake of making a coherent coverage of the topic. I don’t recall the specific things I forgot to mention, but hopefully I’ll get to them in the course of a few writing passes.

One Comment

  1. admin says:

    Point. I’ll have to fight down my tendency towards the more mysterious gradual reveal and provide a summary for those skimming.