Ribbonfarm Complete 2010 Roundup

by Venkat on December 21, 2010

It’s been a weird year. I think I did some of my best writing this year, and also some of the worst. I wrote some great anchor posts, but I also posted several pieces that I now regard as being far too hasty, fluffy and/or self-indulgent. A high-variance year in short.  Mostly a result of this being a very busy year on multiple other fronts: a lot of blogging for work (including a lot of guest posting), a product launch, a lot of work on my book, and the launch of the Be Slightly Evil mailing list (about 20 newsletters mailed out so far). The year has been an exercise in portfolio management.

So overall, I am pleased, but definitely not satisfied.  I am going to set more brutal quality standards for myself next year. Here’s the full list of posts for 2010 in chronological order. The ones in bold are either popular or personal favorites.  Here are 2009, 2008 and 2007 roundups for new-in-2010 readers who want to make this a ribbonfarm holiday marathon and catch up on previous seasons (you may want to print out a dozen or two posts to take with you on any vacation travels). This will be the last post of the year, so see you in 2011!

  1. On the Deathly Cold
  2. Drive by Dan Pink
  3. “Up in the Air” and the Future of Work
  4. Impro by Keith Johnstone
  5. The Misanthrope’s Guide to the End of the World
  6. The Genealogy of the Gervais Principle
  7. Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich
  8. Safar aur Musafir: The Hero’s Journey in Bollywood
  9. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
  10. The Inquisition of the Entrepreneur
  11. The Expedient, Desirable Product
  12. An Infrastructure Pilgrimage
  13. Linchpin by Seth Godin, and 8 Other Short Book Reviews
  14. The Turpentine Effect
  15. Amy Lin and the Ancient Eye
  16. An Elephant, Some Batteries and Julianne Moore
  17. Against the Gods by Peter Bernstein
  18. The Gervais Principle III: The Curse of Development
  19. The Lords of Strategy by Walter Kiechel
  20. Intellectual Gluttony
  21. In the Real World…
  22. Digital Security, the Red Queen, and Sexual Computing
  23. The Missing Folkways of Globalization
  24. WOM, Broadcast and the Classical Marketing Contract
  25. The Philosopher’s Abacus
  26. Becalmed in the Summer Doldrums
  27. The Eight Metaphors of Organization
  28. The Happy Company
  29. A Big Little Idea Called Legibility
  30. Down with Innovation, Up with Imitation!
  31. How to Take a Walk
  32. Cultural Learnings of Blogosphere for Make Benefit Glorious Blog of Ribbonfarm.
  33. The Greasy, Fix-It ‘Web of Intent’ Vision
  34. Morning is Wiser Than Evening
  35. King Gustavus’ Folly: The Story of the Vasa
  36. Cricket as Metaphor
  37. The Seven Dimensions of Positioning
  38. Learning from One Data Point
  39. How Good Becomes the Enemy of Great
  40. The Gervais Principle IV: Wonderful Human Beings
  41. Coloring the Whole Egg: Fixing Integrated Marketing
  42. Warrens, Plazas and the Edge of Legibility
  43. Ancient Rivers of Money
  44. The World of Garbage
  45. What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Poor
  46. What Does it Mean to Work Hard?
  47. Socratic Fishing in Lake Quora
Victor December 22, 2010 at 1:34 am

I’m curious. How many of your personal favourites are popular with readers, and vice versa?

Venkat December 22, 2010 at 9:32 am

Pretty much all my personal favorites (eg. ‘The Infrastructure Instinct’ is one of my favorites this year) are also popular. But I often don’t like popular favorites.

It’s mainly because sometimes my private knowledge of the corners I cut, in order to get the post out on time, prevents me from enjoying a post the way readers do. Example, the ‘Colored Egg’ post. There’s problems with that piece I knew about before hitting ‘publish’ but I hit it anyway, since I didn’t have time to fix them beyond band-aid level.

You guys don’t notice because you can’t see the cutting room floor :)

For posts that are neither personal or popular favorites, I usually spot the problem in hindsight, and it usually implies radical surgery. Sometimes, as with the ‘What does it mean to work hard?’ you guys spot the issues before I do.

In such cases, I usually give up rather than try again. Blogging is an unforgiving medium in that sense because it isn’t friendly to second takes. The surprise and novelty is gone, so even if I get it perfect in a V 2.0, you guys will usually ignore it because you’ve already seen the idea in flawed form.

Stefan K December 23, 2010 at 10:43 am

Why cut corners at all? Assuming your prediction of the widening gap between quality and quantity is true, you will not be punished for a more irregular posting schedule. Personally, I’m disappointed less often by irregular posters with consistently high quality.

RG December 24, 2010 at 7:59 am

Your cutting-corner-to-floor “metaphor-mosis” reminds me of a few related things:

-When thinking of creative ideas, there is no limit to the possible answers of what does not exist now. Listing what exists is a matter of knowledge, finite.

-While delivering a prepared talk, if you forget the third example (assuming you haven’t pre-announced the number) you can smoothly move ahead without the audience noticing anything amiss. Amateur speakers tend to unravel, trying hard to recollect.

-The Curse of Knowledge: It is hard for you as the writer to imagine how a post, after the cut corners, appears to us, the innocent.

We read and react to what we see, not knowing what better goods you contemplated offering :-)

Venkat December 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Stefan:

It is partly pragmatic (you are the exception, in generally, there is a ‘natural frequency’ for each blog I think, and while Paul Graham’s may be 1/mo, mine really is at least 1/week…, given my sense of what readers find the right tradeoff point between quality and frequency, and my own sense of how fast I can/should attempt to grow the blog, since growth is tied to posting frequency: the more often you post, the higher the chances of a viral hit that brings in a new spike of readers… but too frequent/infrequent, and you’re not producing any viral-potential posts at all)

The other part of it is more psychological. I need the weekly “hit publish” treadmill to impose the right level of writing discipline and motivation on myself. Saving unfinished drafts simply does not provide the same motivational kick as going public. Plus, you want feedback at the right frequency given the type of writing. For my book, I am happy enough to develop it for ~2 years without feedback. Other stuff, I want feedback every 1000-1500 words.

RG: Yup, the curse of knowledge is exactly it :)

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