Mid-Course Correction 1, Continued


The next part of examining just how well this blog is doing is to think about the mechanical details of it. I’ve been publishing something typically three times a week, which feels to me like an easy enough schedule, and posting that in the evenings, which leaves me the workdays of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to actually think and compose things. The pieces have been around a thousand words long, although that has a greater tendency to be long than short. Thinking of something to write is hard; keeping going once I’ve started is easy.

That’s all set to my convenience. But I’m curious what readers think of these properties. For one, is the three-a-week schedule a good one? I feel like a weekly blog is too easy to forget about reading, and a daily one might be too much if the subject hasn’t got the fun aspects of ridiculing comic strips or the exciting aspects of ridiculing other people’s politics. Is my instinct reasonable? Also, the publication in the evening is nice for me, but it does mean articles go up when at least one of my readers has gone to sleep, and the Friday evening article can go missing completely against the backdrop of the weekend. Is there a better time?

Is the length reasonable? Should I try writing to a shorter length so as to not present so many walls of text, particularly when I start getting into topics that need equations or algebraic manipulations; or should I let several short pieces run into a more unified and longer post? What’s the natural reading length for pop mathematics that you find interesting? Yes, yes, a good essay is never long enough, but I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m always being very interesting.

As ever I’ll try to be good-spirited about complaints. I don’t promise to take everybody’s advice, but I do promise to consider it.

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Mid-Course Correction 1


I’m about three months into this particular blog-writing experiment, so it’s probably time to start over-thinking it. For the most part I’m happy; I like doing some thinking about mathematics in this kind of organized way, and I really like that I keep finding a thousand or so words to say on different topics, and that those fell to me to be topics that aren’t written about obsessively much in the rest of the pop mathematics universe. And the results have fit my typical self-estimation, that I find it all quite satisfying until the moment I publish, then realize I’ve just shown to the world the stupidest words ever strung together, and as I get some distance from publication come to find I didn’t say what I wanted quite right, but I did acceptably well.

My satisfaction’s not necessarily the important part, though; somewhere in the list of motives I have for writing is to communicate. So, I’d like to know whether you-the-presumed-reader does think I’m communicating. Am I, at least generally, writing about interesting topics; am I varying the topics at a reasonable rate, or should I keep on one thread for more or fewer posts in a row; are the individual essays as interesting as the topics demand?

I’ll try to be good-natured about criticisms, whether put out here or sent to me directly. I don’t promise to change in response to any particular complaint, but I will do my best to listen and consider whether it feels right and whether it might be something I can or want to act on. For example, one person said I harder to start than to finish reading. This feels odd to me, but I’m curious how other people see the same writings.