For a while, I’ve been wondering what to do with my ever-growing backlog of potential post ideas and half-finished drafts. And I think I’ve found a solution.
The main problem is that my current style involves attempting to really flesh out an idea and compose a comprehensive and cohesive argument around it, which is time consuming. It might be because I’m relatively new to blogging (although I’ll be approaching 6 months soon!), but each blog post takes at least a few hours to write up, edit, and polish before I put it up. And it seems I just don’t have the time for that all that often. Thus, I’m going to be starting up a new post series, “Back of the Envelope,” which should enable me to bypass some of these problems while still being able to express my ideas in a decently coherent form.
To reach a compromise, I’m going to take a note from the style of bloggers like AceRailgun and Artemis. First, they will be shorter than a normal post. Only the essentials will be included, and the focus will be on the ideas over a comprehensive argument for or against them. Second, they will try and incorporate some discussion from you guys (my readers!). Each one will include some questions concerning the ideas I put forward, hopefully to foster discussion and allow me to see what others on the anisphere are thinking. I’ll probably still include pictures, possibly with captions to more strongly tie them into the ideas brought forth. Hopefully with these changes, posts in this series will only take 1-2 hours to write up rather than 4-6.
The story behind the name of the series – “Back of the Envelope” – serves as a possible example of what these types of posts will be like.
A “back of the envelope” calculation is an astronomy/physics term and sort of in-joke that refers to a rough calculation whose defining characteristic is the use of – often clearly false – simplifying assumptions. This is typically jotted down on any available scrap of paper, such as leftover “scrap” envelopes (hence the name). These types of calculations are more than just guesses but not quite accurate calculations, and are usually meant to give an “order of magnitude” (or within a factor of 10 or so) approximation. These answers are useful because, although not completely accurate, they usually are in the correct “ballpark” and thus can provide decent conceptual insights. Given this, I thought this was an appropriate name for these posts, both in terms of concept as well as motivation.
How long do you expect/want to spend reading a blog post (on average)? If you blog, how long does it take you to write up a post (on average)?
How’s my posting style working so far? Anything need changing? Does this look like a step in a good direction?