Blog Posts, Randomness, and Optionality

I started this blog in 2003. I have some favorites and ones that I think are worth reading. But I would never have guessed which one would be the most read.

I have a few posts that are probably one of the best places to learn about a specific technical problem, and Google sends people to them. For example, Understanding EXC_BAD_ACCESS clears a lot of misconceptions about what this error means. It’s popular, but not the most popular.

I have a few posts that are jokey movie reviews, where I take one technical aspect and just review that part (it’s based on a Letterman bit). In my review of Oz (the James Franco prequel to the Wizard of Oz), I tried to figure out how the Wizard’s projection technology might have worked (given 19th century constraints). This one is the most popular of the movie reviews because people keep searching for “wizard of oz machine“.

But, by far, the most popular page on this site is the one that hosts my UML cheatsheet. It dominates my search traffic. If I had nothing else on this site, my analytics wouldn’t even notice.

I wrote that post in 2006 based on a talk I gave to a local .NET users group. I didn’t know C# or any .NET yet, but I contributed what I could, UML sketching, which is applicable to any OO language.

There is no way I could have predicted that it would be my most popular post beforehand, which is part of what I mean when I say in Randomness is the Great Creator, that “I believe that the universe is a random, unknowable thing that offers infinite variety. We have an opportunity to tap into it with contributions to the randomness”. It’s why I put these posts out there.

It’s also related to the lesson I learned on the importance of optionality. One of the reasons to collect options is that you are positively exposed to randomness. In this sense, each blog post is an option. They have a low fixed cost to make, but each has a tiny chance at infinite upside.

Or at least some.

It’s also a signal of a direction that might be fruitful, which I’ll explore soon.