Slow Down

Like a large number of my RSS subscribers (around 40%, surprisingly) I switched to FeedWrangler after Google Reader. Don’t worry, I’m not going to revisit that topic ā€” I know its been done to death. I only mention the change because a small thing about it has started to quite profoundly affect how I write for this site.

Previously, when I published an article, I could immediately go and manually refresh the feed in Google Reader. I did this every time. It became part of the ritual. It meant that if you were reading the site via one of its various RSS feeds, it would pop up in your feed reader minutes after it was posted.

For some reason it had become very important to me that my posts get in front of everyone without even half an hour’s delay.

Feed Wrangler doesn’t let you manually refresh feeds (as far as I know) and so sometimes it takes up to an hour before it checks the feed and picks up new posts. It didn’t take me very long before I stopped thinking of this as a downside and started seeing it as the good thing that it is. For one thing, now I can catch the typos that always appear 5 minutes after posting, before they’re immortalized by everyone’s feed reader.

Not only that, but my attitude towards writing for the site has changed. I find I’m much less eager to just push stuff out there as soon as it’s more-or-less ready. Now I often re-read a post, or even set it aside for a while to give it some more thought. Let’s face it, I’m not breaking news here.

It’s a subtle balance to keep. If I worked on everything I write until it was absolutely perfect, I wouldn’t publish it here, I’d make a book out of it and sell it. I plan to do that at some point, in fact. In order to be published here it needs to be, by necessity, somewhat transient: less long-term relevant, in some cases. There’s too much danger of getting caught up in endless editing cycles, otherwise. I have things that I’ve written that I’ve never published anywhere because I got so deep into polishing them that they fell apart.

A few people noted that what MG Siegler recently said about the tech press:

That is, on any given day, Iā€™d say 75 percent of what you read in the tech press is somewhat accurate, 20 percent is complete nonsense, and 5 percent is actually true.

could apply to lots of different things. I think it applies to sites like this one you’re reading, if you substitute quality for truth in the 75-20-5 equation.

I want this site to be one of the 5-percenters. I’m committed to constantly improving it ā€” not just by tweaking the design, which is an all-too-easy rabbit-hole, but by trying hard to make everything I publish here better than the last thing. The slow down that Feed Wrangler inadvertently prompted me to is part of that.

The fact that you’re reading this is part of that as well. Thank you!