A bit of regular blogging

Today I have a few hours blocked off to engage in a bit of writing and creating. Based on a review of the recent stats it looks like the Substack posts are working well enough. My draft of the week 73 Substack post is mostly complete. Drafting went well enough Friday into Saturday on that one. I’m going to rework it a bit here in a few minutes after finishing this post. It seemed like a good idea to just go ahead and do a bit of regular blogging right here before jumping back over to working on that post. Recently, I have been more likely to work on academic efforts and less likely to just produce a bit of stream of consciousness style prose. That seems to be a developing trend. I’m trying to avoid it becoming a pattern. 

Strangely enough yesterday was actually a really big Google keep day for me. I took a ton of notes of things to work on and things to write about in the future. Sometimes that happens when I end up in a reflective mood. My notes are a wonderful little roadmap to producing future content. For those of you who do not take writing topic notes, it is a method of keeping track of things that could be promising without investing a ton of time into them immediately. My massive “Substack Posts” Google Doc has all the posts written so far and the backlog list which is functionally a collection of notes that goes out to 120 total topics. At this point along the journey, I have written posts 1 to 73 within that backlog. Right now I’m still working at a pace where one or more posts are being produced each weekend. Each one of those posts is just a written set of research notes cataloging my journey to better understand a topic. To that end my research notes are essentially provided free of charge to an audience on Substack. 

My plan is still to take all that content and drop it into a 2nd edition of The Lindahl Letter book when the 2nd full year of publishing is complete. I’m not entirely sure Substack as a platform will last forever and memorizing the content in an actual printed publication format is not a bad method of persevering things along the way. Sure the content is available to people for free who want to consume it that way and as a book for people who prefer to read it in that format. That is just a part of the process and adventure along the way. I had done all the setup for posts and the pre-work on a bunch of posts up until the last post that was completed. I have now staged the posts up until week 104 which will be a big 2nd year of posting recap. 

At the two year mark I’m planning on moving away from machine learning posts into just generally covering artificial intelligence and producing research notes related to a planned set of academic articles. That means that it is possible that weeks of ongoing coverage of something being worked as an academic article could be distributed. That is probably a good method to really dig deep into a few topics along the way. One of the things I have worked pretty hard to avoid is producing coverage of the same topic over and over again. Somebody who sat down with the book later on will see an ongoing coverage of topics and not encounter a repetitive reading experience. One of the things that I have really tried to avoid along the way is providing weblog-like coverage within The Lindahl Letter which would end up blending this type of content with that more research note type of coverage. I’m sure a blending of the two types of content would be possible, but that is not really the intended vibe.

Focused purposeful writing

My writing is starting to happen in blocks that could be Tweets, “Ok links to week 68 of The Lindahl Letter have been posted to both Twitter and LinkedIn. Last week I wrote, but did not record audio for week 71. This morning I wrote the first half of a double issue for week 72.”

My goal for this week is to be really focused on purposeful writing. All my communications are going to be edited and rock solid this week. It feels like my ability to write lately has required more sustained focus. Something is different for sure, but it is not apparent.

Today is probably going to be a day of working on tasking and knocking things out. Normally my productive window is early in the morning hours, but today I’m going to have to be ruthlessly focused on getting this done during a 5 hour block of time.

Writing generally begets more writing

Today started off well enough. I finished a draft of a new post, “Substack Week 71: What are the best ML newsletters?” Assuming things go as planned I’ll work on a bit of editing tonight and tomorrow morning. That will take the post from editing to audio recording late tomorrow morning. I have been trying not to record right after waking up. Apparently sounding slightly sleepy when recording a podcast is frowned on by the listening public. I’m successfully staying 4 weeks ahead of my publication commitment for The Lindahl Letter. For the most part each Friday my backlog is deprecated by a single post and a new post is being created on the following Saturday and Sunday. That routine and pattern has been working. At some point, I’m sure the backlog will diminish a bit. This summer I’ll have a couple of weekends where writing is probably not going to happen. 

Overall I’m back on the writing bandwagon with a 5 day weblog publishing streak going. Getting to the point where the habit of writing is at the forefront of my daily routines is a good place to be. Writing generally begets more writing. I really do want to start my day with an hour of typing and working on writing. 

Several days have gone by without my social media applications being installed on my Google Pixel 5 smartphone. On a side note to that thought, I’m considering upgrading to the Pixel 7 when it comes out and just skipping the Pixel 6 edition altogether. That being said, I have found that not being able to look at Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram on my smartphone does cause me to use those platforms a lot less. A long time ago when phones were just for calling and texting I used websites on a desktop computer or my laptop. My efforts now are focused on just checking those websites at my main Dark Base Pro 900 housed computer. They will get checked at a specific time and place of my choosing. Notifications are not going to be allowed to drive my attention to something. Only my specific interest in a thing will drive my attention to focusing on it and that is a key distinction to consider. 

Focusing on accomplishing a deeper degree of work is an important part of the puzzle. I don’t want my focus and attention pulled away from the things I have deemed important. That is one of those things that helped me realize that focus on connections and effort has to be foundational to my planned actions. 

We have connections with people. A few of them last the test of time. They are with us even after we part ways. Sometimes a song, feeling, or just happenstance can trigger that connection to resurface. For me, hearing the lead singer of Harvey Danger always makes me think of one person. It happens every time and neither the context nor the occasion will shake that connection from coming to the forefront of my thoughts.

Those topics deserve to be deeply considered

Recording the audio for week 64 of “The Lindahl Letter” included a false start this week. I got about 3 minutes into the recording process and had to hit delete. My recording voice was not consistent. I realized that beyond drinking two shots of espresso some water needed to be consumed. After taking a moment and drinking some water I was able to complete the recording in two parts. Sometimes I have had to record each paragraph separately with a small pause in between sections. Ideally I would like to complete the recording in one good take, but that is not always realistic. Drafts of posts for week 65 and 66 are in progress at this point. It is entirely possible that tomorrow morning I’ll be able to record one or both of those posts. At this very moment, I’m 2 weeks ahead of the publication point. My spring break vacation occurred and my plan to build out a few weeks of buffer worked well. 

During the trip I did not bring any recording equipment with me to keep up with the podcast part of the equation. That is how the posts for week 65 and 66 are in progress. During the course of my vacation I had some time in the morning to sit down and write, but no ability to record. Both the digital divide and ethics in machine learning topics deserve my deepest focus and top quality writing efforts. Working a little bit ahead on those posts should help increase the quality of them and both of those topics deserve to be deeply considered.

A bit of moving along the path

Yesterday, I accidentally wrote a post for my Substack newsletter. It had been intended to be a weblog post and it was well on the way to completion when it looked a lot more substantive than it should have been. Instead of the type of stream of consciousness related content that ends up being my defacto functional journaling on this weblog this was entirely contained and structured. To that end I went ahead and crossed out a planned publication and put this one into the slot for week 67. Being able to switch things up is important as sometimes during the course of working a writing backlog you have to change up the priority and work something different. Mixing it up can help keep the content fresh and topical to current events. However, that cannot be the only consideration. The content has to be written in a way that it can remain useful even a year or five years later. 

Within my regular writing routine I have about 90 minutes in the morning that are mine to direct toward writing and sorting out the organization of my day. You could call it my time of ordering my steps along a path to a perfect possible future. Most of the time it consists of writing within a word processing document until my attention is pulled elsewhere to something else along the way. Today is an example of that routine and I’m pleased that it occurred. During our spring break trip I was not able to maintain my writing schedule. I had worked ahead within the Lindahl Letter posts on Substack. That effort actually yielded a 4 week buffer at one point. That buffer has been reduced down to two extra weeks of content. Adding the audio recording to the mix related to the podcast part of the process really stopped me from tinkering with the posts after they are completed. Within the ability to tinker I just easily move on to the next block of writing on the backlog. 

A few notes from yesterday:

After dinner I watched Star Trek: Picard, season 2, episode 2, titled “Penance”.

Before going to bed I listened to a Dream Theater album titled, “New Millennium: The Classic Broadcast 1999.”

Talking to other Substack writers

With about 55 or 56 other writers I attended a Substack event called, “category tour kickoff.” It seemed like a good idea to attend a few of these Substack events to get a feel for what other writers are doing these days on the Substack platform. It looks like they have events occurring for the rest of the month. That should be interesting. I’m planning on attending technology related events from the Substack calendar. 

Substack Tour Dates

Free up that writing spirit

Recording just completed for week 63 of The Lindahl Letter. I’m still about a month ahead of actual publications at 4 issues loaded and scheduled. I’m still trying to figure out why Substack as a platform did not send out my publication on team time this week. It does not appear to have impacted readership, but I don’t like the unexpected failure. Being on time and having things ready ahead of time is a key part of delivering quality content. 

Yesterday ended up being a little bit of an old school blogging day. Topics were covered as they happened and it was just a list of things and observations. Maybe this current streak of publishing every day is starting to free up a little bit of the old writing spirit from wherever it was being constrained.

A few basic Saturday notes

Today started out with a bunch of time spent writing, “Substack Week 63: Sentiment and consensus analysis.”

Yesterday the Substack platform did not send out my newsletter via email at 5:00 PM Denver time. I had to go in and manually trigger the event. I have never had to do that before and I’m not entirely sure what happened. I’ll wait till this Friday March 18, 2022 and see if the same thing happens again. 

My Linus Tech Tips branded cable ties arrived. I now have 50 cable ties in my possession to help clean up my cabling. 

A desk drawer got installed. It’s a, “Slim Under Desk Storage Drawer by UPLIFT Desk.” So far it is working well enough to remove some desk clutter, but it is not very deep in terms of depth within the drawer. Installation took two people as the drawer is oddly heavy and awkward to install. If you could turn the top of the desk upside down, then it would be possible to install for a single person. You might also be able to do it with some clamps or something, but it probably is going to take two people to make this type of magic happen. 

…and I’m back to blogging on a regular basis.

Writing inherently is about the creative journey

Right now 4 weeks of The Lindahl Letter are ready to go out: March 11, March 18, March 25, and April 1. Tomorrow morning a few hours will be spent working toward the next edition. One of the unintended consequences of switching to a podcast variant within Substack is that finality comes the moment the audio is locked. Taking the time to read the Substack post and then edit that audio down to be ready for upload pretty much creates a locked-in moment. Something would have to go wrong before I went and opened up the audio to make changes to what was created. That means for the most part on Sunday when I’m satisfied with the content I do one final major edit during the audio recording process. Nothing really helps you catch small errors in a draft like reading it out loud and then listening to it back while you are also reading it. I did stop formatting my footnotes into an APA style. At some point, I’ll probably switch back to that format as I prefer it for publication and beginning with the end in mind makes sense. From a practical perspective it just takes a lot longer and disrupts my flow while I’m working to jump back and forth between style guides and deeper thoughts about the subject at hand. 

We will see here over the next few weeks what will happen within the writing process. Some of the upcoming topics will deserve some deep consideration and might need about 20 hours of preparation time. Most of the time I have a pretty good general understanding going into the research rodeo and then I can build out my arguments in a very rapid way. Sometimes developing the foundation takes a good amount of time. Within the context of The Lindahl Letter it is ok to write about the process of building up research and collecting ideas so that helps compared to the more formal process of reviewing literature that goes into writing journal articles. Writing inherently is about the creative journey and the output. Very rarely do people sit down to create prose strictly for communicating an idea to distill a purpose more widely. Most of the time writing is not trying to get the listener to do something or compelling some type of agenda. Most of what gets created is about communication from a writer to a wider audience. Sometimes it is just about a writer putting words to a page that are really not going to an audience at all. 

This functional journal for example is entirely written from the perspective that I’m just collecting my thoughts and moving along. Only during that big year of writing where I was working toward producing a million words in a single year did each post start off considering the reader. Most of the time I’m just writing based on the ideas at hand. The journey is the valuable part. If somebody happens to enjoy the prose that was created, then it was a secondary benefit of the process.

A bit of weekend editing and tinkering

This morning I spent some time writing the first 1,000 words of a Substack post about, “Touching the singularity.” That will end up being published during week 62 of The Lindahl Letter on Friday, April 1, 2022. Writing about the intersection of technology and modernity is something that I have been working on for decades. Tomorrow morning or potentially this evening I’m planning on refining that essay to a point where the audio podcast version can be recorded. One of the consequences of moving to a podcast audio recording of my Substack posts is that it inherently creates a locking point for the content where no more tinkering can occur without breaking the synchronization between written and spoken word. Sure I can go back and clean up a few small typos. Most of the time the act of reading the essay out loud will help you catch the more common typos and errors. When it does not sound right when spoken out loud then it is probably something that needs a bit of grammarian consideration.

One of the benefits of returning to my office after the floor renovation was completed is that my routine of writing every morning and turning out pieces of inspired prose has returned. Surely you have noticed my return to publishing longer than average sentences after consuming a few shots of espresso. A lot of time this week has been spent really digging into my writing plans and thinking about what needs to be completed. All of that effort is grounded in the idea that if I only had a small amount of time left, then what efforts are the most important and should be prioritized. I’m pretty sure a decade ago it would have been writing a full and complete investigation of the intersection of technology and modernity and just how that would impact civil society. However, future me did not put that weighty tome into the 5 year writing plan this week. 

Pivoting to an update on the old weblog recovery would be prudent at this point. Overall it looks like all the written content is file, but my media files are just gone. I’m not entirely sure how that ended up happening. Fixing or relinking older WordPress images after a migration is a topic people seem to write about. To get to that point, I’m going to need to figure out where a valid backup copy of the images is stored and then work on the fixing or relinking part of the equation. I’m starting to wonder if no valid backup exists. Several methods of backup have occurred over the years, but none of them have been helpful. Currently a new backup method was turned on which should prevent this situation from happening again. This really is not the first time that a migration or event has crushed out all my images from my weblog.