I had recently unsubscribed(about a month ago) from ribbon farm’s rss feed(on my google reader). I had done it in an effort cut my read posts on reader/month ~50 from 100. But i did not really think a lot about why. i know i spend reading the ribbonfarm posts just that little extra time and/or attention. I also know, what i learn from ribbonfarm is valuable. But the number of posts per month convinced me to drop it and read it instead by visiting on the browser. Ofcourse, due to the historical old posts browsing, it was already on my block list when i am in ‘work’ mode.
I hadn’t considered the tradeoff (attention vs lesson/learning value.) till i saw this post today. He refers to another blog , which talks about insight porn type of blogs. I managed not to click on it and go reading around yay… Anyway, given i have been reading ribbonfarm and do tend to write a blog post** on top of a specific ribbonfarm post and feel a very shallow/temporary rush of work done. Note that it was nowhere close to what i get when i read up some math and try to sum it up or just take notes/thoughts on it.
Anyway, i realized in a sense venkat is right. He’s generating insights that are useful, but not change your world type deep. Atleast not any more. I won’t pretend to be following him from back in 2008 to know this, but i do know i kinda have some idea or the other of his posts’ direction with a little skimming. This is probably an effect me going and digging around his archived posts reading up for a couple of hours at a time . Anyway, these are porn in the sense, they have surprising perspectives and interesting metaphors sometimes, but sometimes they are just one/two-level logical connections from some well-known principles. (A side effect, being you become a lazier thinker.* ) I guess that’s where the 20-80 rule/problem comes up. Infact, i originally thought, i would go and make a list of his blog posts that are not insight porn and those that are give a feedback, before i realize that list is going to be different for different sets/types of people.
Besides, i don’t think there’s any reliable way (that i can suggest ) for him to measure(nay grok) the distribution to make the blog better.
1. i now vow to write less posts surrounding/developing around ribbonfarm posts and definitely not new posts.
2. I vow to read ribbonfarm on intermittent + serendipity seeking basis. i now have a list of sites for serendipity and lesswrong is moving up in that list.
3. Forming a list of stuff to write on a habit basis( some mix of math + open-source s/w) — not yet ready.
4. Progress enough to move john d cooks’ blog from the google reader subscription to serendipity reading list. instead get something like the p=np blog as a subscription.
* — I guess we all optimize for some kinds of think and become lazy thinkers in some area or another realistically.
**– One of my own example is this. it doesn’t really qualify as insight porn(it falls short of offering reasonably useful insights) at least not sophisticated, but very crude. but definitely qualifies as traffic generator posts..
UPDATE 1: ironically, enough this post itself seems to have become a bit of clicks attractor..
UPDATE 2: ok, i realized a couple of things, the site traffic monitor (inherent in wordpress and google analytics) both, perhaps useful if checked once a month or so are a pain if checked every day(which is what i had started doing). the problem with checking every day or once in two days is it is very easy to settle for the local maxima of clicks coming in from backtrack links on existing popular blogs. my core faults so far.