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.