Riding the Feedback Loop

I used to blog a lot. I know this, because posts stick around, and are easy to measure. Their impact, usefulness, etc., less easy to measure. But I used to blog a lot!

Publishing web documents is good for my mental health. I feel productive and connected when I produce content. But the dopamine hit I get from interacting with the content I consume is hard to break away from.

I am trying to hack around this by combining the process of producing with reaction, via a personal feedback loop.

Specifically, I subscribe to the feeds I generate, and group them as “processing”. Then as I consume the content I’ve created, I am able to digest it. This is an important step, part of a concept I’ve been working on for a long time: social documentation.

The idea is that by communicating with people, I am able to generate ideas and knowledge that is useful, and I am attracted to tools that assist in capturing said knowledge where it is created. For me, the tool has been plain ol’ RSS (and Atom, of course!).

Some examples of feeds I follow:

  • Code changes - Most of my coding is public on allthe.codes, with a lot of discussion happening on GitHub (:rolling_eyes:).
  • Discussions - I am active on a lot of Discourse sites, and all my public actions show up in my user feed.
  • “Social media” - In quotes, because all fo this is social, and all of it is media, so whatever. Here I mostly mean my Mastodon account. Quick tip: Mastodon feeds also have your faves and boosts; I use that to follow up with things that interest me, doing a deep dive during processing.
  • Wikipedia - Specifically, my contributions. I am a fan of minor, drive-by edits, but if I am logged in and change something, chances are I am researching something, and seeing my edits reminds me to note it.
  • My blag - Yep, even interi in looped back. Why? Reading something I wrote later, in a different context, is helpful, produces corrections or clarifications that make better documents, and frankly gives me a sense of movement.

Technology Stack

  • Syndicated feeds, meaning RSS and ATOM, and potentially JSON feeds, as folks start generating them.
  • NewsBlur, my hosted feed capturing engine. Highly recommended.
  • Sometimes newsbeuter. It tags feeds with the folders as listed in NewsBlur, but they don’t combine feeds, so for this particular use, I normally use the web interface.

Processing the processing

Right now my system is to set a timer, just after the fire-catching phase of inbox zero. It isn’t a hard deadline, but when the timer is up, I finish up what I was writing and publish.

I don’t worry over much, since I know I will catch that piece of content again, and my notes are made to be edited and refined over time.

Today I processed just two pieces of feedback, but they generated Discourse for teams and ProtonMail, as well as this post. See that? Movement.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://interi.org/2017/10/riding-the-feedback-loop/