Maximizing The Value of Your Keystrokes

I met Jon Udell this year at MIX. I was reading through his excellent blog to flesh out some of the topics we talked about, when I was struck by the powerful message of this particular entry:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

good thinking… i’d wish more people would practice this

The same principle counts for more places, for example wikis or code documentation (that’s probably obvious to a lot of developers). During development work, I often find myself answering developer questions about how to use my code in a certain way. Instead of replying in private, I add most answers to a documentation wiki and provide a link.

This provides the additional benefit that when said developer forgets about details you’ve mentioned, he can just go back to the documentation without messing with history logs. If you find yourself answering a question more than once, or predict it, it should be an automatic behaviour to put it on a wiki, blog, etc. The same goes for forums. These are public but their structure is usually very bad and does not promote sharing. You could say that ‘devalues’ your keystrokes.

With public participation, the value your keystrokes have for the original private audience also increases.

I’m not sure whether to post my views on this idea here or on my own blog…

Hence, Twitter!!!

I’m not so sure about this. Could be Jon Udell just has too much free time and needs to think about something more important than whether or not the world will be the beneficiary of his next flash of genius–if that’s what you call it.

This works if you forget about inconvenient details like the signal to noise ratio.

(Not) Confidential to my boo:
We out of food again, baby. Get yo fine ass to the grocery store and pick up some of this:

Colt 45

I started doing this a few weeks ago for the same exact reasons outlined in your post. I usually end up writing an email at work and then edit one or two lines to protect the innocent before posting. Works like a charm.

or maximize the bullshit of your keystrokes. not every email is interesting. And most blogs are very boring. So why do we want even more?

So why do we want even more?

Granted, 90% of everything is crap (aka That might even be a little bit optimistic in the era of YouTube and MySpace. Perhaps it’s more like 99% of everything is crap.

Even so, that still leaves 1% that isn’t crap. Therefore, the more content we put on the web, the larger that 1% gets. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep increasing the amount content on the web so that 1% gets proportionally larger over time.

Finding the 1% of stuff that’s actually worth looking at is easy. The populist magic of PageRank/TrustRank means we never need to see or even know that the other 99% exists.

I don’t think that’s how it works, my good Jeff. I have a feeling if you try this, you’ll just end up reducing that 1% to 0.5% of the overall content.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go through your e-mail, but it’ll just be to grab your credit card numbers and personal info so I can buy some tube socks online.

I figure you’ll be less angry when you see what a good deal that is.


Hey Eamonn:

Thanks again for editing my writing again. My application is attached.
Please feel free to use track changes.


Actually, there is a big difference (for many people) between shooting off an email vs. composing a blog entry that you are proud of. Well, given some blogs perhaps not.

The good thing about writing for a blog is it forces you to think, edit, clean up, re-think, compose, etc. This is good for the brain in many ways.

Twitter is like, you know, ummm, er, whatever.

when i read the topic here, i thought it was going to be about programming languages, being a pythonista myself, i was expecting something about maybe boo, or IP.

I was wrong, but this is still food for thought.

it forces you to think, edit, clean up, re-think, compose, etc.

And writing an email doesn’t? It should:

What if you post to your blog via email?

Jeff, if you have the time and energy to compose each email on par with your blog, hats off – but I don’t think that’s the norm for most folks.

Ditto to my employer being the silo. On the other hand, there have been pleanty of times when I send out an email to all users of a program instead of just the one who asked the question. We have a private intranet at work, I think I’ll look into the possibility of blogging there.

It is well know that their is a difference between data and knowledge. Blogging data is just pollution. I understand what you are saying, but most of what is emailed rightly belongs in the trash bin. Do we want to save all the comments about Paris Hilton’s recent incarceration?

I like this idea, but when you write “anyone who is interested in the topic can find it”, I think that’s a big assumption. Most of the email I write is deemed confidential by/to my employer. In order to make this happen, I would need at least one web server and some kind of search engine and I would need a culture within the company of actually using that search engine. In other words, I am not the silo; my employer is.

This all said, I have definitely stopped just before hitting the send button on a long mail to two people and pasted the text into my blog and sent the two people a link instead. Public dissemination does work, but only for stuff that’s already compatible.

captcha: lemon

Based on this article, I’m proposing we move our support function from email to a community forum. There is plenty of useful product documentation, workarounds, advice etc buried in email.