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.

Moving toward some hyperfocus

Today was productive enough. In the early hours of the morning I was able to lock in the last podcast audio recording for the month of July 2023. I’m staying within the 5 week buffer right now to have content ready to post. For some ineffable reason I have written a number of tweets today. 

Tweet: Saturday morning podcast recording mischief is now complete.

Tweet: Today was a day where donut ordering happened early in the morning. We ended up waiting at an intersection for a bunch of cyclists competing in some type of race to pass us. All that waiting was enough to inspire an extra shot of espresso in my iced macchiato.

Tweet: Sitting at a traffic light. Waiting for the light to cycle. The driver in the car behind me started flailing and otherwise behaving wildly. After a few moments of that increasingly wild behavior, I’m pretty sure he killed a spider with a smartphone. So that happened this weekend.

Tweet: I might be using @YouTube wrong, but I just open up my subscriptions list and watch videos both on my computer and television.

Considering Twitter subscriptions

We are back on track with a block of writing happening each week. Right now posts are staged for the next 5 weeks out till July 14, 2023. I woke up this morning and worked on the next block of writing in the backlog. Got it recorded and scheduled to both Substack and the blog. 

I’m super curious about this feature that Twitter has rolled out called “Subscriptions” to create a monthly income stream for content creators. The most interesting part of the equation is that you have to set the monthly subscription prices and you cannot change it later. Filling out the entire form took a couple of minutes. It required completing these 2 prompts:

“Take a minute to say hello”

This bonus content will probably be a bit of inside baseball related to my writing efforts. I have been writing blogs for 20+ years.

“Describe the perks you’ll offer”

You will get a few more blocks of content that would otherwise appear on the blog. I’ll try to provide a better look at what is happening.

My monthly cost would have been $2 as a subscription. That seemed superior to the $1 minimum amount they would have allowed. In theory somebody could have selected the maximum value in the drop down of $239 as the target monthly subscription rate. That seems like an awful lot of subscription cost to get access to some bonus content in Tweet form each month. Maybe somebody who breaks news on a regular basis or a really interesting public figure like Michael Burry (think Big Short fame) could command that maximum value. You could subscribe to most of the major streaming content services for that cost. 

Assuming the Twitter account devoted to Subscriptions is an accurate source…

In total the system has 3,858 users with accounts that are enabled for the monthly subscription feature. That is actually a larger number than I was expecting. A screenshot is included here as I’m sure the overall numbers will change go forward.

Apparently, back on May 12, 2023 they reduced the application steps from 27 to 4… 

Some things that just keep moving along

Earlier this week, I went ahead and purged out all the inactive emails from The Lindahl Letter. It was actually a strangely liberating moment of bulk deletion. It’s still a little weird that WordPress is not able to just send over posts right to Twitter anymore. I’m assuming somebody will work out a plugin for that type of thing. At the moment, my solution remains that after publishing I’ll just go to the post and click the share to Twitter option. I’m not entirely sure why doing that is worth the time it takes, but it is another one of those oddly rewarding types of things that will probably keep happening. 

I did watch the entire Succession series on Max (formerly HBO Max). It really was not a very long series, but it was interesting. It did make me consider buying a tablet, but it was not enough to actually push me over into making a purchase. I have a smartphone, chromebook, and desktop computer. That should be enough computing power to get things done. The majority of the work I’m doing these days is happening at my workstation with the stacked dual monitors. Working out of my office just makes sense when prolonged concentration is required.

A few times since the launch I have put the Google Pixel Fold in my shopping cart and then given up on making the purchase. Folding phones which would sort of end up being half way between a tablet and a smartphone always seem like a good idea in theory, but the thought of the crease line is enough to stop me from making the purchase.

Letting go of all those tweets

My Twitter account has been flipped over to “Protect your Tweets” status. That is basically the privacy version of lockdown. I’m letting my blue checkmark expire on May 12 by canceling any renewal mechanism. Generally that action is being taken as the benefits of the program are not worth the expense at the moment. Outside of that scenario, I can confirm that the idea of completing that series of steps was harder to consider than the consequences of actually taking the actions. Participating in the great public commons that Twitter might have represented was a grand idea. Social media is not a shining city on any degree of hill. Mostly it was a promise of something that maybe could never have really been true in actual existence. I’m going back to blogging and just sharing thoughts that way in written form to an audience that mostly shows up from search engines.

I’m going to try to avoid spending large amounts of time on Twitter. My profile will remain and my 10,000 or more tweets still exist, but they are in that protected status.

It really feels like the delivery methods of the modern news media have become broken. It’s somewhat surprising that 15 million people use Feedly as an RSS reader. Google Reader has been gone for a while now (2013). I have spent some time the last couple of days thinking about how people consume news and where and when that attention is applied. 

You certainly are able to replace the act of tweeting with WordPress posts that generate a tweet during publication

You certainly are able to replace the act of tweeting with WordPress posts that generate a tweet during publication, but the process is a lot more work. That is probably the reason that most people would not use that methodology for posting. Other people have come to the same conclusion. I’m also pretty sure that the algorithm downranks the posts you send over that way. I’m going to really lean into building things with code. It does markedly increase the velocity of posting on the blog. I’m actually approaching 10,000 total tweets. Well I’m actually at 9,871 total tweets since March of 2009. The number of weblog posts that have been created in that same window happens to be 2,614. That number includes 1,201 published, 243 drafts, and 1,160 private posts. My velocity of tweeting was way higher than my general posting velocity. Certainly sending out tweets is a much easier thing to do than writing a more complex longer form missive. I’m not entirely sure why I ended up spending so much time today thinking about Twitter.

A return to blogging instead of tweeting

One of the things that I’m trying to accomplish is putting a bit more effort into writing short little missives instead of just dropping storms of tweets. I’m sure it is a function of the wildness that has been occurring recently on that platform. Things are starting to get a lot weirder in general outside in the macro-economy. Seriously, global economic interactions are getting a bit weirder than they used to be in the last 5 years. You would have to zoom way in from that thought to get to the reality of my whining about sending a few tweets. However, that is exactly where you are right now as you read these sentences on the old weblog. Instead of waiting to have larger missives I’m just going ahead and hitting publish on shorter writing sessions. That might increase the volume of blog posts going out, but that is fine. By fine I mean that I find it acceptable and thus the path is set on a go forward basis. 

One alternative I considered for a bit was to just write my tweets as the title of my weblog posts and let the integration push them over to Twitter. That would be an interesting way to go about sharing content on that social network. I do have the WordPress application on my phone and could make that plan a reality. It’s a lot more effort to build out a blog post. It requires categories, keywords, and both a title and body set of content. Those are not blocking factors of course they are just elements that require a little more time to make the plan work on an ongoing basis. It might be a good excuse to set more featured images on short posts. Overall, it is probably a bad plan to try to execute. I’m going to give it a little bit more consideration and you might see a few test posts to see how the practice of actually doing that works for me day to day. 

Most of the time the writing process is about using a keyboard and typing at my desk. Writing on my smartphone just does not work for me based on the tactile interaction and process overall. I did generate a quote for a System76 laptop this weekend. It’s printed out and sitting right next to me as I consider making the move away from my Google Pixelbook to a different type of laptop. The total number of laptops that I have owned in the last two decades is actually not a very large number. I tend to have them until they experience catastrophic failure and are replaced. That is probably the same sort of way other users interact with laptop technology. Nobody really just needs a stack of spare laptops sitting around.  

A weblog post or just my secret corner of the internet

Over the years some of the posts from this weblog get some traffic, but the vast majority of them do not really surface out on the internet. This is for all practical purposes this weblog is just my secret corner of the internet. This evening I’m sitting and wondering about what to do after I deleted 198,364 emails from my gmail account. Cleaning up that many emails was truly liberating. I did not need the emails and now they are gone. While I was busy cleaning up my email archive the entire universe of Twitter seemed to catch fire yet again. It appears that Substack got restricted on Twitter today. My weblog system still drops links over on Twitter. Nothing about that appears to be restricted. It’s really the only social media advertising that I keep providing. To that end I keep writing longer and longer titles for my weblog posts.