M. Mirra's notebook[?]

created: 2019/05/07, tags: meta

the notebook as experiment toward more useful online writing

these pages are where I jot down what I learn. they're also an experiment to see how online writing works outside the box of blogging.

I call it "notebook" for several reasons:

a blog is written for an audience. litmus test: nobody keeps an offline blog.

existence of audience means that those who can write something useful do less of it -- because a slice of the effort goes to style and presentation -- and those who have little useful to write have incentives to produce catchy noise.

a notebook is written for oneself. litmus test: people keep offline notebooks all the time.

absence of audience means that those who can write something useful can do more of it -- because effort is limited to the content -- and those who have little useful to write will look elsewhere.

a blog is a product. write a lot and you can call yourself a blogger.

a notebook is a by-product. write a lot and you're still a programmer, scientist, painter, ...

a notebook serves to record, not to entertain; to reason, not to sell. it's a personal space with no promises; TODO's and notes to self are at home; today's text may be gone tomorrow without an "update" note or similar ceremonies.

blogs aren't bad, they just happen to reward bad practices. notebooks and blogs can work together. jotted down, expanded, reworked, a chunk of knowledge may reveal itself as something useful enough that polishing it for a wide audience is worth the trouble.

my personal guidelines

  • graphical style should be rough. looks set a tone for writing, thus rougher looks = less pressure to sound refined or witty. the roughest one can go for typed text is typewriter characters on a plain page.
  • writing style should be functional to the purposes of reasoning and recording. if pressing two keys to start a sentence with an uppercase letter instead affects the speed of recording or the flow of reasoning, go for the lowercase.
  • titles should summarize the content, not fish for attention; condensing an idea in one line helps achieve a primary purpose of the notebook: helping the author to think. it also lets the reader skip what's not relevant. reader attracted to read something irrelevant = failure.
  • should not host comments; so as to keep out the concern of whether words will please or displease.