Writing Review

As promised, I will review the writing of my latest blog entries. By reviewing on my own writing, I hope to learn more about my writing and improve it. If you have any comments about my entries, I would love to hear them, and I will post them in my reviews.

Cheap Memory Foam Mattress

One sentence that strikes me as particularly bad is, "One was how good the bed felt underneath me, and two was the price." My sentence construction here is very unbalanced. The first part of the sentence is a complete idea, while the second part is explained in the next sentence. When sentences become this unbalanced it becomes hard to read them.

This post has a very generic opening. I do not sound excited about this mattress, even though I really am. Starting the post with Tempurpedic instead of an exciting explanation of memory foam was a mistake. It would have been more appropriate to postpone this post until after I could make a better recommendation about the bed. Ending by saying that I have only slept in it for two days instead of a call to buy this mattress is a weak closing.

Now that I have had two weeks to sleep in the mattress, I've found it to be extremely comfortable. I wake up without any back pain or soreness. Also, I can sleep in any position without feeling pain: on coil mattresses I could never sleep on my side, but on memory foam I can. Sleeping on my side was especially helpful while I was sick.

Cutting Out the Middleman

This was one of my best posts of the group. I am passionate about cutting out middlemen everywhere and I think this showed in both the length and quality of this post. I should not have opened the post by talking about the theory of supply chains. This is slightly boring and actually off topic from what I discussed later. Instead, I should have made strong points about why middlemen are bad. Points that I would back up in the body of the post.

Title Insurance Prices

Some of the writing is repeated twice in this post. I should have worked to clean up this duplication. Also, there are unnecessary words in my prose. For example, "and the person you are selling it to" is "the buyer." In addition, title insurance is not an "idea" it is a service.

Consumers reporting the prices they pay for services might make a really popular web application. The prices of services are very irregular and it is hard to know if you are getting cheated. By reporting and aggregating prices, people could be more satisfied about the prices they pay.

Opportunity Monitoring Company

The problems with this post are mostly content related. The idea behind this company is not fully thought out, so some parts of this post were quite vague. I did not explain why an opportunity monitoring company would be an exciting place to work at well enough. There was no plan to generate revenue either.

There is an additional opportunity to post explaining how the calculations done by this company would work in practice.

Capital Preservation

This post was pretty crappy. Capital preservation is a good idea, but the post suffered from problems that detracted from the idea. Defining capital and income at the start of this post would have made my explanation clearer. The post ended by talking about something unrelated to capital preservation because I got distracted talking about the behaviors of financially illiterate people. My use of bold text makes the post easier to skim. What might help even more would be to have section headings, and also more links. My posts, in general, are devoid of good links and headings, which help to keep a reader's attention, by breaking up large blocks of prose.

Systematic Exploration

I am a hypocrite for supporting the ideas in this post. I have not systematically explored my work environment even though I could probably do it in less than two hours. Also, my attempted systematic explorations of the Walmart near my apartment failed to find what I was looking for. This week I happened to find what I was looking for by random exploration. I made good use of the word "you" in this post, and I had some good examples. A lot of my other posts could be improved by using anecdotes like I did in this post.

Admitting You Suck

I wrote this post when I was very ill, and it shows. It is barely coherent and too short. It sucks! It would have been a lot nicer if I admitted in the post that I sucked, instead it reads like I am telling you that you suck, without first admitting that I suck as well.

Cancun

This post could have a much better title. It is a travel guide to Cancun, but I instead just wrote "Cancun" as the title. Also, I try to appeal to every type of Cancun traveller instead of focusing on the one that I am, or ones that I know I can help. My knowledge of the party scene in Cancun is totally lacking, but yet I thought I could give useful advice about it. I should not have tried.

I enjoyed writing about travel, so I want to write about my other experiences; like my road trip across the US, and my trip to Jamaica.

Non-violence in Iraq

This was a most popular post by number of comments. Jacob Lee's comment was exciting because it made me rethink America's effect on Iraq. Also, iprefermuffins pointed out that I spelled "Gandhi" wrong, which is particularly lame because I had spent hours reading Wikipedia pages about Gandhi.

I did a good job of avoiding passive sentences in this post. Nothing is cut and dry in geopolitical problems, but writing passive sentences does not spark debate or make people think. I was happy with the length of this post as well. I demonstrated again that I am bad at concluding blog posts. My conclusions tend to not reinforce what I have written and instead go off in strange directions. The reason for this is that I see that I am almost done and I rush to finish. I will try to focus on improving my conclusions next week.

Programmers Will Form Labor Unions

I was surprised this entry did not generate any disagreement. I think this just shows how few readers I actually have at this point, which is kind of disappointing. I need to focus on building my readership by writing more valuable posts. This post is not particularly valuable because it is not directly applicable. It just some speculation about the future.

This post was well structured, except for the conclusion. It introduced three conditions for unionization then talked about each point. Use of more examples, anecdotes and evidence would have made this post a lot more valuable.

What I Learned Playing MUDs

I like this post. One thing that could improve it are sub-headings. It is fun to recall what I learned from my hobbies and try to distill it into some useful form. It would be fun to make other distillations about the past. Maybe a post about what I learned in college, high-school, from playing sports. All fun topics to explore in the future.

Google Finance Definitions

This post is a departure from my others. It seems to be improperly formatted to give the best explanation: some of the explanations are part of a description list while two are just paragraphs. Also, I could have added a lot more value by talking about how you should interpret these numbers instead of just providing definitions for them. I just noticed that I failed to highlight a link in the middle of the post. With more work, this format of post could provide a lot of value to people.

Money Burning Charity

This post is pretty crappy. It starts off advocating for this new type of charity I invented, but as I think about it more I find the idea is a bad one. After I realized it was a bad idea, I should have reformatted the post as a joke, or scrapped it entirely. Posting it in an inconsistent state was irresponsible of me.

Reader Comments

My friend Alan Lynn has this to say:

I think the approach of writing a blog post every day is inherently quantity over quality, unless you have a lot of time to invest. You've picked some good topics recently, but the content often seems undeveloped.

If somebody finds your blog a month from now, would they find your articles valuable enough to read through your archives?

My current strategy is to learn to write by writing a large number of sentences. My main motivation currently is not to provide value to others but to improve my writing skills and habits so that I can later provide value to others. I think that posting every day is important until I get into a strong habit of posting new ideas I have.

If it is possible, I would like to increase my quality without investing more time. If I get better at researching and writing content, I will be able to achieve this. I hope that I can revisit some of this underdeveloped content later and develop small sections of it.

published 2008-12-21

Questions or Feedback? Email ryan@ryantm.com or tweet @ryantm.