Monday, September 14, 2009

Short Attention Span Theatre, or, What Happens When Your Page Becomes Delicious

Last week my article on Java reference objects managed to find its way to the “popular Java” page of delicious.com (and, within a day or two, drop off again). Normally, this article gets hit a dozen times a day, usually by people who are Googling for “how to fix out of memory errors.” During the week that it appeared on delicious.com (which was preceeded by a lot of tweeting), it was getting hit 150+ times a day — including 49 times in short order from one London-based ISP (which I assume was a proxy).

What was interesting to me, however, was that almost none of the people visiting this page went to any other page on the site — and of the ones that did, more went to the “food” section than to the “programming” section. And they tended to do so quickly: under a minute between initial page hit and moving on. I know that it takes longer than that to read about reference objects.

To an author, this should be a blow to the ego: is my writing so bad that people don't want to read more of it? It's like they picked up my book, read the dust jacket, and put it back down. But I refuse to accept that conclusion. For one thing, I have a strong ego. But more important, enough people bookmarked the page for it to appear as a popular link.

The real answer, I think, is that people in the software industry are very quick to jump on new ideas, but don't have a lot of follow-through. And why should they, when there's a plethora of well-known pundits saying they should explore as many new things as they can, and there's always a new popular link showing up on delicious.com?

The problem with this attitude is that exposure to a lot of ideas doesn't mean that any of them will stick. In fact, I'd say the opposite is true: if you don't take the time to examine an idea and see how it fits with your existing knowledge, you're not going to ever make use of it.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Please Provide an RSS -- I really enjoy your articles

Tad.Kk0VqJ6BDME36HEumrvnjBadCg-- said...

It's very strange: I tried responding to this comment while logged in, and both of my attempts disappeared into the ether (or there's a long delay for moderation).

At any rate, this blog is hosted by Blogger, which provides several different feeds. My main website also has an RSS, named /rss.xml