ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

….and we’re done. —

OK, that’s that.

It’s now January 1st. I’ve been writing entries in the time warp for a few weeks now, catching up from the 14 day gap I had from the massive California/West Coast trip I took, and I had decided that whatever we had up to today was going to be it for my weblog for 2007. So I hit December 14th just now and I think that’ll do.

It was an interesting experiment of mine. When I decided to do this initially, I wanted to do a daily weblog. Become a destination, you see. Be a place people go to, and then use that to drive other projects and collaborations. Be a more involved person and citizen, evolve a fanbase, and so on. These are all excellent ideas but they depend on several assumptions I didn’t make or, more accurately, conclusions that I failed to come to until I was well past commitment.

I was not wrong in thinking I could have enough to talk about to fill many hundreds of pages, and do so without doing the cheat-outs of a link dump (here’s a thing, here’s a thing…. GO) or simply copy and pasting news stories and then squirting out my own lame analysis of them, usually not more than a paragraph in length. (A girl died? This is VERY BAD. Girls should not die.)

No, my big miscalculation was in thinking I could do the sort of craft that I prefer with my wordsmithing, and be able to do it daily (or even five times a week), and have it be worth reading, and be able to do anything else of note.

I do things. I’m a doer. I am big into slaving away on stuff beyond reasonable measure and then coming along with the finished or near-finished thing and surprising everyone with it. That is a lot of fun for me. If the project is huge, then I also like doing during-project information dumps relevant to those who want to track my progress, and to share lessons learned. I’ve learned a lot of stuff and it tends to fade when you’re done, so in-project updates are cool to do.

But all this is time consuming, and as soon as I had to do something relatively big, this approach would fall apart. Instead of treating this weblog as a companion, I made it a primary display of my competency, and that was a huge mistake. I needed to skip days and I had this setup in my head to never allow that, and so I kept having to play catchup as soon as I was hip-deep in work both personal and professional. And why was I doing it? Because of a goal I set myself. Not even a goal, per se. Actually a random metric I had decided would be a formula for fame and fortune: five well-written updates a week = competency = success. Anything less than this spontaneous magic formula meant failure, so soon I was scrambling on the side trying to pump in quality writing at the same time as getting other stuff done.

My day job took the biggest hit, with me missing a few deadlines and not getting back on track for a day or two after going in on something. That’s uncool and unfair to my co-workers. They’re very tolerant to have a world-class freakazoid like me on the payroll but there are limits.

Next came my actual projects, where I’d be trying to craft out something good while catching up and having to leave something on the burner, and then by the time I was ready to go work on the project, I’d be too tired to safely concentrate on the work. So another day would slip by. I probably lost a month of productivity in 2007 to this.

So was this a total mess? No, no, not at all.

For one thing, I generated an enormous amount of writing this year, possibly more structured writing than I have done in well over a decade previously. I wrote, all told, about 270 entries this year, some of them very long and some very involved. I tried to generally make them timeless, that is, not subject to the whims of the day and not related to quickly-fading fashions and soft chuckles of links. This wasn’t always the case but I tried to stick to it. So 270 essays/reports is a pretty good collection to have after a year.

I also got better at writing, or, I think, writing more quickly. I have stopped using the malapropism “literately”. I am also less likely to fly completely off the fucking handle at people, since I’ve had to engage in all manner of conversations both online and off related to these entries, and that’s put me in touch with a greater number of counterparts. Flying off the fucking handle becomes a very untenable choice after a while; I’ve run out of handles.

In the next entry, I will state where the weblog is going. It’s not going away, but this little experiment is over, and I’m making a note here: huge success.

Yes, I stole that from Portal. Just trying to stay trendy.

Thanks for a great year, people. Now back to work.


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5 Comments

  1. corq says:

    …I’m tired just reading this.

    You’re a better man than I, Jason Scott. (Which is good. I look pretty spooky with facial hair.) And most certainly a better blogger ;)

    Hope you have a happy, lovely and productive 2008!

  2. Ryan Russell says:

    Well, if this ultimately means “less”, then I’m a little sad to see it lessen. I’ve enjoyed reading your stuff. If it helps any, I could tell that you were putting a lot of time into it, and I’m yet one more person who wonders how you get it all done.

  3. Michael Kohne says:

    You know, after seeing the BBS documentary, seeing the weblog, and seeing what you’ve done so far on the next documentary, as well as browsing through your various projects, I think I can safely say: Do whichever thing makes you happy, man. It’s all good stuff, and frankly ANY of your projects seem well worth pursuing.

    I wish I had half your drive. I really do.

    Good luck on whichever thing you’re working on tonight.

  4. Andy Baio says:

    I’m so glad you decided to get blogging heavily. I love your writing, but if you don’t have time to work on the other things you love, it’s not worth it. Cut down to once or twice a week with your best stuff, and I think everyone would be happy.

  5. You know, after seeing the BBS documentary, seeing the weblog, and seeing what you’ve done so far on the next documentary, as well as browsing through your various projects, I think I can safely say: Do whichever thing makes you happy, man. It’s all good stuff, and frankly ANY of your projects seem well worth pursuing.

    I wish I had half your drive. I really do.

    Good luck on whichever thing you’re working on tonight.

    Posted by Michael Kohne at January 1, 2008 09:39 PM
    I’m so glad you decided to get blogging heavily. I love your writing, but if you don’t have time to work on the other things you love, it’s not worth it. Cut down to once or twice a week with your best stuff, and I think everyone would be happy.