A weblog post without a working title

Writing each day takes a bit of energy to get started. It’s that start that always separates a good writing day from a bad one. The prompt is always ready in a digital word processing document. It never fails to deliver. Certainly the problem is usually on the side of the writer and not the technology the vast majority of the time.  Speaking of technology related problems, my smartphone battery has started to require charging multiple times a day. Generally the made by Google Pixel 5 smartphone has worked pretty well over the last two years. We will see what happens here in the next few days in terms of battery life. I’m not a big fan of having to carry a battery pack. I’d rather just have a smartphone that delivers enough battery life to withstand the needs of the day. 

Today my needs are a little unclear. I have a certain amount of focus that is ready to devote to things. At the moment, the problem being faced is that I’m not entirely sure what weighty topic of glory is going to lock horns with that focus as the writing begins to take shape. Things are moving along here without that key topic to drive things forward. At the moment, this is a weblog post without a working title. Working through that type of challenge is about keeping the pace going and trying to settle into a rhythm with the keyboard. You have to relax and find that stream of consciousness to work with where ideas flow and it is hard to keep up with them as they arrive. I keep a backlog of weblog post ideas in my Google Keep  application for just this type of situation. Today however, I’m not going to go search for help from the backlog. I’m just going to continue to ponder the edge of nothingness as the cursor on the screen chases down the end of my thoughts at this very moment of typing. 

A few general themes exist around the topics that I deeply care about and some of that centers around the intersection of technology and modernity. A handful of other themes relating to civility and the social fabric are also ever present in my thoughts. Instead of jumping into that type of work at the start of a writing session I begin with no expectations or prompts and just start to let the process of thinking happen. Generally it takes just a bit for my thoughts to focus on something. That is something that I am totally ok with as I’m willing to take my writing in whatever direction the spirit of the moment takes at the start of the day.  Certainly, a bit of focus on academic writing or a backlog of other writing that needs to be done would be more efficient. That would however fail to capture the possible next thing that might come into being from being willing to jump in any direction. That is how a weblog post without a title finds that spark of creativity and all of a sudden from nothing to something occurs. 

I’m not sure today will include anything special or if the efforts of the day will be memorable at all. Given the chance the entire process will start over again tomorrow.  That is the nature of how this cycle of writing works and for the most part what happens when a writing routine is maintained day after day. My most stable and productive writing routine has to be maintained around writing at the very start of the day when nothing is happening. Oddly enough I really have to start writing and thinking at the point where nothing is happening. No distractions are allowed to occur. I cannot really just put on the noise canceling headphones and writing in a busy room. It turns out that I need that period of just zerospace to get writing. It’s a moment where that nothingness moves from a totality of inactivity to a world of possibility. Ideas begin to break through my attempts to be still in the moment. That is essentially what happens with my stream of consciousness writing efforts. Starting the day that way is my preferred method of content creation. 

Inevitably that writing session will come to an end and I will move from working on one thing to the next. My backlog is very real and at this moment it is daunting to even consider finishing everything in that pile of possible writing output. However, before taking on that type of work that requires a bit of deep consideration it is best to have warmed up the writing process and be ready to do that next level of work. Warming up as a writer is something not to be considered lightly. You have to know what works best for you. Sustaining an ongoing writing routine is about balancing the need for output with the pacing of creativity. Maintaining a solid backlog and writing plan helps with that type of effort of course. 

Being able to find that moment of focus

Things are moving along a little slowly today. Getting back into the swing of daily writing has required a little more focus than it used to at the start of a daily writing session. Strangely enough my Chromebook just tried to pair with my Pixel Buds which was awkward when my phone started blaring songs from Pandora internet radio. Instead of trying to deal with that problem I decided to just turn off Bluetooth on the Chromebook. That is not something I need to write this weblog post. My audio has now been moved back over to the right source. Things are starting to move along. My thoughts are now really focused on the task at hand. Being able to find that moment of focus is an important skill for a writer to have developed and practiced. 

Yesterday I started reading an article from Nature published back in 1976 by Robert May on chaos theory. The PDF I came across was only 9 pages. Two real methods exist to absorb a new academic subject. Probably the majority of the time people learn a new subject from a textbook based learning approach. Outside of that you can read primary articles about that subject. Generally as you start the academic experience you end up moving from textbook based learning to article based reading around the time you move to graduate school. Currently I read a lot more academic articles in PDF form than textbooks. That is a function of cost and availability. Within the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence people are writing textbooks and sharing them as open source documents. You certainly can read them in that form. 

At the moment the degree of change within the field is so accelerated that I mostly end up reading articles in PDF form as I chase the bleeding edge of the discipline. Every weekend and during the course of a lot of weekdays I share links to them and dig into the various ways people are pushing the discipline forward. Honestly, the sheer volume of content being produced would overwhelm any reader or entrant into this field of study. More papers and content than could possibly be consumed are coming out in a variety of ways. Knowledge is no longer being gated by the reviewer based framework of the best academic journals. People have just elected to share pre-prints and sometimes they don’t even try to get those articles published. They share them and move on to the next article writing project. We have within that framework a possibility for extreme output. Within the ML/AI space that is certainly the case right now. 

Understanding things has really required a lot of study. I have written 75 Substack posts about topics in the field of study and have plans to finish a package of 104 total foundational essays on the subject. You can imagine anything deep enough to support that many essays would be vast and rapidly changing. That for sure is the case. I’m going to keep going and learning and striving to learn as much as I possibly can to share with people and to advance my own individual learning.