Today started with a bunch of clicking on links and checking web pages. Instead of writing a little bit of internet surfing happened. Today my two shots of espresso are a little more bitter than usual. Normally the Starbucks espresso roast capsules for the Nespresso machine are very consistent. My writing productivity level is unfortunately not that consistent. Sitting down and working on this session of writing should have been my first priority at the start of today, but instead of that my focus was all over the place. Today has been an unfocused writing day. Even right now I’m thinking about refilling my 48 oz Nalgene bottle instead of being focused on writing. Maybe I should circle back to writing later on today. That is probably the prudent course at this point.
This week my time is going to be spent on working out my new speaking presentation. It is about time to get going on that project. At the moment, the working title of that talk is, “Effective ML ROI use cases at scale.” I’m not totally sold on that title and that might be why it is taking me so long to finish this presentation. Previously back in November I gave a talk in New York City about, “Figuring out applied machine learning: Building frameworks and teams to operationalize machine learning at scale. Thinking back on that now it was a very long title for a talk and a very different time before quarantine and the pandemic. Building that presentation ended up in a roughly 5,000 word presentation that was recorded into Mp3 format for easy listening. You can find that content here:
Writing this new paper is going to include a few different exercises along the journey. To help include you in the adventure I’m going to try to describe the process before it starts. Generally, I have used two different writing strategies to build out new presentations. One of these might work for you or might need an entirely different writing strategy. First, sometimes I just sit down and write the presentation from start to finish. Previously that has happened a few times and in one solid writing session driven by the headwinds of inspiration a paper goes from start to finish in one session. You could say in that example of a writing strategy you have to wait for the spark to strike and the paper will just end up happening. Second, I will take out one of my notebooks with blank pages and sketch out the structure of the paper and then start filling out the necessary sections like building random bricks in a wall. That analogy does not work in practice, but in the world of writing you can generally work on any part of the paper. That is the power of imagination within the process. Using a little bit of imagination you don’t have to build the paper from the bottom up like setting bricks in a wall.
Seriously, I’m not even entirely sold on the current writing project. It is a work progress to be sure. Three different titles have received attention; “Effective ML ROI use cases at scale”, “Building effective ROI ML use cases”, and “ML use cases at scale with effective ROI.” At some point along the way the title could even change. Right now the structure of the presentation is probably going to center on 5 solid ML use cases and how the ROI is calculated for those examples. That is probably all it will take to round out the presentation. My best to get this done is to start a shell in Microsoft PowerPoint tonight and work to get the PowerPoint slides built out one at a time. Completing the presentation in PowerPoint will allow me to have all my thoughts lined up and ready to present. The next step in the process would be to write out the complete talk. Working on that plan will generate another roughly 5,000 word block or prose that could be easily converted into some type of academic paper. It is possible that the paper will only surround the best use case or perhaps the machine learning return on investment model itself.
Maybe all this weblog content should be taken offline. This functional journal represented like 20 years of writing. Some of it false starts and a lot of it incomplete in nature. People seem to be trimming down backlogs of Tweets and other online content. Sometimes I consider purging it all and just moving along. This work is archived. Pulling it down from here would not even make a ripple in the grand ocean of innovation and creativity.
Working on the next writing project is always on target. Editing and working with previous work is not even on my radar most of the time. Obviously, it is something that I probably should invest more energy and effort into, but it never becomes a priority. I’m always placing value on what’s next. All of my attention and focus is on what I’m going to do next. That attention is never on what I have been doing. That is how it works and how I evaluate things. Potential matters. As a writer you don’t generally value the potential of a previous pile of work. This makes me wonder about the future of content. Library shelves provided a curated look into the collective works of content deemed memorable. Somebody thought it was important enough to log it and keep it on the shelf. Beyond any reasonable expectation for storage on a library shelf the amount of content available has accelerated to the point where no library could reasonably physically hold it, have the time to evaluate it, or provide the curation function historically associated with a library.
Online from internet browsers we have access to so much new content being created every day that a certain degree of displacement is bound to occur. Classic novels and literature will be thinned out to the vital few gaining popular references over and over again. Academic writing is great for sign posting where the ideas were built from during the literature review and other sections explaining the origins of ideas. Outside of academic work something has to be pretty impactful to be referenced. Sometimes it takes a movie franchise to make a book super popular. Other times a super popular book will drive the creation of a movie and sometimes a franchise will develop from that seed.
These are the things that I am super curious about today. I’m wondering about the future of content and drinking some espresso.
People are using services to clean out Tweets older than 90 days. First, the facts are clear that this is a common enough request to need services. Second, people seem to be using these services on an ongoing basis. My own personal library of Tweets is generally useless. It is a bunch of links and one line references to things that caught my attention. Twitter is so ephemeral in how it represents the now. As time elapses the usefulness of the content expires exponentially. The value of a sporting event being televised peaks during the broadcast and replays generally are less valuable by an order of magnitude. It makes me wonder if all that content being produced has a flashpoint of value that peaks and falls off into an abyss. Within that abyss all the abandoned content just gets ignored for the most part. The only people going back to read old Tweets are generally researchers. Search engines are smart enough to pretty much ignore that forest of one line zingers and stale links that is the aging Twitter stream.
The amount of academic writing being published has skyrocketed with the advent of online distribution and journals that exist solely online. The barrier to entry of having to print and distribute a journal evaporated. That is important as to continue physically printing a journal it had to have enough subscribers to support that ongoing and expensive endeavor. Online journals have a much lower sustainment cost. This also creates the possibility of increasing fragmentation within the academic community. Following the trail of references in papers is what binds the academic community together. It is that shared activity of running down references that removes fragmentation and focuses the academy itself on the key contributions. At the same time, just seeing a reference over and over again and not being able to get access to it or really find it can be exceedingly frustrating. That is the type of problem that creates reliance on the sources of information and publications that are stable and easy to access. Working within topics that require working in multiple languages or trying to access international journals can be increasingly difficult.
I guess given enough time to reflect on the future of content my concern about academic literature is dissipating. People will reference and get access to the ideas that influence the academy. That is going to happen based on the near perpetual desire of the people participating in ongoing academic research. Everything else outside of that is where all my wondering about the future of content ended up focusing. Content owned within movie studies and the frameworks they use to distribute will probably continue to be fragmented based on the ever growing islands of online streaming. Independent projects are more ephemeral. A lot of that content gets shared on platforms like YouTube that are here today and gone tomorrow. Given that independent content shared that way would have to be rehoused to continue distribution that content is at risk for being inaccessible. A lot of creator based individual driven content streams fall into that category. One one hand it is great that people are able to share content and some of it gains a real audience that gets to enjoy it and participate with the creator. Alternatively, what happens to that content in the long run.
Sitting down this morning to write pretty much followed the pattern of the week. Writing has been hard this week. It has been really hard. Neither words nor the spice flowed this week. I’m not entirely sure what happened that slowed me down. Getting back on track to write every day has been as simple as dedicating the start of the day to sitting down and writing. Every day for the last 30 days I have sat down at the start of the day and started to write. From the first sentence you probably already came to the conclusion that the sitting down to write part worked. I did really manage to sit down and engage in an effort to write. Failure occurred at the point of putting words on to the page. This week the blank page won. That is probably a better blog post title than what I was going to go with, “A very slow writing week.”
Interrupted. Breakfast (donuts).
For the last 35 days I have published some content on the weblog. That is a pretty good streak, but it is not to the point of a daily writing habit. Getting to the point of having a daily writing habit will be about the number of daily misses being strongly outweighed by the continued string of action stopping the blank page from winning. Hard stop. Stopping the blank page for winning next week is going to be about focus and dedication to pushing things forward along the path to the perfect possible future.
Very few things give me enough pause to want to halt and think for a bit. These are the times to give us enough cause to halt and think for a bit. Being reflective right now and thinking about what path we are taking makes perfect sense. Last night I sat down and started looking for a few chapters I had started writing a couple years back on a novel. Most of the time it is self-censorship that blocks me from writing novels. Working in the fiction space is something that always draws my focus and fades quickly. Generally writing every day and producing nonfiction works is easy enough and does not insight any fear or self-censorship. I generally write about whatever draws my attention and the words just flow as they are without much editing or any meaningful revision. We live in the times where the intersection of globalization and pandemic have occurred. This year (2020) will no doubt be remembered for the great shutdown and corresponding quarantines that occurred. With respect to that realization it is hard to question that these are the times of our fear. The world is changing very rapidly. Civil society is facing pressures that are tearing at the norms and conventions that keep the fabric holding us together strong. We the people have commonly worked toward a shared independent journey since 1776.