Working ahead of schedule to defeat the backlog

I spent some time watching this Machine Learning Street Talk (MLST) interview with Yannic Kilcher this morning.

As a brief disclaimer, you can learn from somebody without having to agree with them or support everything they do along the way. People are complex and sometimes they can be chaotic. One of the early topics they covered was the complexity and reliability of the content being produced. I’m actually totally ok with MLST going as deep as they want during discussion and episodes. Not everything has to be written or shared for a general audience. Sometimes it is ok to have a highly technical conversation and dialogue with people who are capable of tackling those sorts of higher order challenges. A consequence of that type of effort will be that the audience size will be smaller. I generally believe that around 10,000 people worldwide are really hyper focused on consuming highly technical machine learning content. Audience sizes beyond that are picking up a different type of community based on purpose, interest, or circumstance creating an intersection with the general machine learning community of interest.

I’m going to try to utilize Twitter going forward to share links to the YouTube videos I consume each week. That should help allow me to provide some context and it will give you a sense of the content creators that take up several hours of my week every week. To be fair every week it will be me sharing the same links and commentary for the most part to the creators in my top 5. It turns out that I cannot really have more than about 5 podcasts in my weekly rotation. That is where I max out in terms of content consumption. 

My Top 5 podcasts right now (when this post was written):

  1. All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg
  2. The Vergecast & Decoder (both are Nilay productions)
  3. Hard Fork with Kevin Roose and Casey Newton
  4. Machine Learning Street Talk
  5. Lex Fridman Podcast (I’m 30/70 on listening to these based on topic) 

My honorable mention would be the New Heights podcast from Kelce brothers.

Earlier this morning I was able to really work ahead of the backlog by one block of writing and I’m considering just scheduling the content to go live without recording audio for that post. I’ll probably spend some more time refining that block of writing and end up recording the podcast audio during some evening this week. We will see how that goes.

My routine is set up to produce 52 blocks of content per year

Currently, my routine is set up to produce 52 blocks of content per year. Each week one block of content is getting generated. Within that cycle I have time devoted to writing on the weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday morning I wake up early and focus for several hours without interruption. We are in the third year of this 52 block creation format. The previous two years were moved into a manuscript format and packaged as books. Each of the blocks is shared out as a Substack post along the way. All of that is geared toward my efforts to learn, understand, and explain complex topics. That is the routine that I have setup and am implementing as part of both my daily writing plan and the research trajectory I have set up for myself. All that rolls up into my five year writing plan and I have been successful in adhering to the plan. 

This pattern of production works for me and I’m ok with sustaining it. One of the things I need to really focus on doing is converting some of the blocks into research notes, literature reviews, and the seeds of academic papers. Last year I built a solid literature review in Overleaf and was able to share it out. Pretty much every part of that effort was rewarding. It was good research and the effort put into that made sense. This year we have moved from post 105 to where I am currently working on post 124. That pretty much means that 19 blocks of the 52 for this year have been expended. All of that effort did not yield another publication shifted over to Overleaf for extended sharing. At the moment, I’m deeply considering what that means to have spent the time and effort on that writing effort, but not have turned the corner from building blocks of content to creating publications. 

All that being said, I’m trying to figure out how to take my remaining backlog for the rest of the year and either mix and match blocks to build something or change out some of the remaining blocks for the year to help support the mission of creating better literature reviews. I know that the best possible plan is to probably just sit down and write down the top 5 literature reviews toward the bleeding edge of technology I would like to read and then just produce the ones that do not exist. Working on things within that process is probably the right way to move things forward. Getting to a posture where my routine is generating the output I want over time is really the outcome I’m looking to achieve. Having a routine is great and it is the first step in the process. A good next step is understanding the outcomes of that routine. That is what I have been trying to think about within the last 500 words or so of prose.

Each of those 52 blocks right now is created in a Google Doc and that is where the content stays within the 5 week planning and review cycle. For the whole year I work on content within that document and pull out completed works to share them in Substack. I’m trying to figure out if I should be publishing the content on the blog as well. No real conflict of obligation exists in doing that type of doubling up on posting the content. Generally, each blog post is created in a separate stand alone Google Doc and then that word processing document is just left in storage afterwards. That is very different from the 52 blocks of content where towards the end of the year I take the time to format the content back into a Microsoft Word document and prepare that manuscript for both editing and publication. From what I can tell, old Substack posts don’t really get a ton of traffic and at some point I’m sure that platform will cease to exist. My blog will exist until approximately 5 years after my efforts cease. I tend to pay in advance for domains and hosting.