Coding Horror: Maximizing The Value of Your Keystrokes

Coding Horror: Maximizing The Value of Your Keystrokes

May 03, 2007

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:

When people tell me they're too busy to blog, I ask them to count up their output of keystrokes. How many of those keystrokes flow into email messages? Most. How many people receive those email messages? Few. How many people could usefully benefit from those messages, now or later? More than a few, maybe a lot more. From this perspective, blogging is a communication pattern that optimizes for the amount of awareness and influence that each keystroke can possibly yield. Some topics, of course, are necessarily private and interpersonal. But a surprising amount of business communication is potentially broader in scope. If your choice is to invest keystrokes in an email to three people, or in a blog entry that could be read by those same three people plus more -- maybe many more -- why not choose the latter? Why not make each keystroke work as hard as it can? hands blurred, typing on a keyboard [converting an email to a blog entry] can have powerful network effects. To exploit them, you have to realize that the delivery of a message, and the notification of delivery, do not necessarily coincide. Most of the time, in email, they do. The message is both notification and payload. But a message can also notify and point to a payload which is available to the recipient but also to other people and processes in other contexts. That arrangement costs hardly any extra keystrokes, and hardly any extra time. But it's an optimization that can radically expand influence and awareness.

I covered similar ground in When In Doubt, Make It Public, but Jon's entry is even more compelling. It's a specific example of how you can adapt your behavior to have a much broader impact. What Jon's describing happens to me all the time. I'll be in the middle of composing an email when I suddenly realize that there's no reason to silo this information in a private email exchange. I convert that email into a blog entry. Now, anyone who is interested in the topic can find it and have a public conversation with me-- and everyone else-- about it. The next time you find yourself typing more than a few sentences on your keyboard, stop and ask: are you maximizing the value of your keystrokes?

Coding Horror: When In Doubt, Make It Public

Coding Horror: When In Doubt, Make It Public

When In Doubt, Make It Public

Marc Hedlund offered some unique advice to web entrepreneurs last month:

One of my favorite business model suggestions for [web] entrepreneurs is to find an old UNIX command that hasn't yet been implemented on the web, and fix that.

To illustrate, Marc provides a list of UNIX commands with their corresponding web implementations:

talk, finger ICQ
ls Yahoo! directory
find, grep Google
rn Bloglines
pine Google Mail
mount Amazon S3
bash Yahoo! Pipes
wall Twitter

Jason Kottke noted that most successful "new" business models on the web aren't new at all -- they're simply taking what was once private and making it public and permanent :

Blogger = public email messages. (1999) Instead of "Dear Bob, Check out this movie." it's "Dear People I May or May Not Know Who Are Interested in Film Noir, check out this movie. If you like it, maybe we can be friends." Flickr = public photo sharing. (2004) Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake said in a recent interview: "When we started the company, there were dozens of other photosharing companies such as Shutterfly, but on those sites there was no such thing as a public photograph -- it didn't even exist as a concept -- so the idea of something 'public' changed the whole idea of Flickr." YouTube = public home videos. (2005) Bob Saget was onto something. Twitter = public IM. (2006) I don't think it's any coincidence that one of the people responsible for Blogger is also responsible for Twitter.

But you don't have to found a new Web 2.0 company to benefit from the power of public information. Even brick and mortar companies are finally realizing that the age-old principle of "secret by default" may not be the best policy today :

Companies used to assume that details about their internal workings were valuable precisely because they were secret. If you were cagey about your plans, you had the upper hand; if you kept your next big idea to yourself, people couldn't steal it. Now, billion- dollar ideas come to CEOs who give them away; corporations that publicize their failings grow stronger. Power comes not from your Rolodex but from how many bloggers link to you - and everyone trembles before search engine rankings.

Power, it seems, comes from public information. Secrets are only a source of powerlessness. Just ask Brad Abrams, who poses this rhetorical question :

If no one knows you did X, did you really get all the benefits for doing X?

I think Brad is being a bit too cautious here. I'll go one step further. Until you've..

  • Written a blog entry about X
  • Posted Flickr photos of X
  • Uploaded a video of X to YouTube
  • Typed a Twitter message about X

.. did X really happen at all? This is not to say we should fill the world with noise on every mundane aspect of our existence. But who decides what is mundane? Who decides what is interesting? Everything's interesting to someone, even if that someone is only you and a few other people in the world. It's my firm belief that the inclusionists are winning. We live in a world of infinitely searchable micro-content, and every contribution, however small, enriches all of us. But more selfishly, if you're interested in deriving maximum benefit from your work, there's no substitute for making it public and findable. Obscurity sucks. But obscurity by choice is irrational. When in doubt, make it public.










  有一件事特别地引起了我的注意,这是free game:

The Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL for short) is a cross-platfrom library
designed to make it easy to write multi-media software, such as games and
The Simple DirectMedia Layer library source code is available from:
This library is distributed under the terms of the GNU LGPL license:

  google earth/google desktop的API免费使用,供大家随便扩展,而API本身则是商业产品。



研究显示两性相争雌性率先用武器 为其求生产物-搜狐新闻: "研究认为,雌性动物有使用武器的必要,因为雌性单凭四肢猎食的话,是没有足够的体力和时间与雄性竞争的。人类学家发现,非洲塞内加尔的雌性黑猩猩经常会咬下树枝,当作矛来追捕猎物。很多动物都懂得使用工具,但这是研究人员首次发现动物使用武器猎食,显示黑猩猩比人们所想的更近似人类。"