Substack posts are queued up until Friday, March 24, 2023. That means the next 3 Friday nights will receive a post. This morning as I sat down here to begin the day pretty much everything except something productive got done. I was checking emails, looking at websites, and generally just not engaging in the act of writing. It took about 19 minutes of that brand of nonsense to complete before this Google Doc was opened full screen and the writing process took hold. I tried to use both Microsoft Word the desktop edition and the online version for my daily writing exercises. It’s really one of those things where I strongly prefer to write in the Google Doc’s interface. All of my editing and manuscript preparation happens over in Microsoft Word for books and articles that are not LaTeX based. Anything that falls into the LaTeX required camp of writing is being formatted in Overleaf online. It’s not being written in that editor, but the formatting happens post content creation for publication using that platform.
The interesting part about the whole Overleaf thing is that I pay them every month. The rate just went from $5.00 to $5.50 to have an online collaboration friendly LaTeX editor. Intellectually I know that I could install a LaTeX editor on this Windows desktop and not pay that subscription fee, but in practice it seems like that is unlikely to happen. I move around between Chromebooks, Ubuntu, and Windows depending on where I’m working at the time. That makes having the LaTeX related content accessible from a browser pretty darn helpful. We will see what happens if they keep raising the prices. We may find out at what price I’m not willing to keep paying them for their services. I’m sure the body of academics they have using the platform are mostly using the sharing functionalities that Overleaf has created. If you were working on a paper with a collaborator or several, then it would be very convenient to share it this way. Learning how to be a copy editor for my own work using LaTeX was an interesting experience. It’s a steep initial curve and then you sort of get used to it.
Writing in a browser like this is a much easier experience. I just sit down and make words appear on the screen with the keyboard while moving along with my day. Having to sit back and think about commands and formatting while that happens breaks my concentration and is disruptive. That is probably why I edit and create my content in a normal word processing document. I have been doing much better in the last 30 days in terms of focusing on creating some words for the blog at the start of the day. Part of my routine is to focus my energy for a few minutes and collect my thoughts at the start of the day. It really is a significant part of starting the day off right. Being focused at the start of the day helps me use my most productive time and golden hours on the right things instead of the easy things. That might seem trivial, but it is really pivotal to getting things done. Productivity for me during those few hours where no interruptions occur and work can progress unabated is higher and perhaps a deeper kind of work.
We are at a time where things are changing very rapidly. That change may end up being truly disruptive to civil society and the way we interact with each other. We have already seen a tremendous change to the way news is consumed, created, and shared. A study of information exchange and civil society would be an interesting way to spend some time. That is probably just adjacent to my research interests, but could perhaps be a part of some of my upcoming research. We will see what happens on that front as we move forward. It’s certainly something that is front of mind for me and could get included at some point.