Introducing Iterative Blogging


Currently, ideas, notes, and image material I would like to write out as blog posts are piling up. Writing a good blog article with a well-structured text, suitable image material, and clean references may take me a day of work or more. But I currently lack that time.

So I have come up with a different way of approaching blogging. I call it „iterative blogging“. Surely, the concept is nothing new, and it has been done like this by others before. In fact, the exact same term, with pretty much the same meaning is used by Max Hoffman in his blog post here.

The basic idea is to think of a blog post not as an article that is written out and published once, but as a work in progess. A first readable draft version is quickly published, which can then be refined over the next weeks or months.

This is similar in principle to a wiki article: the text starts out small, and is extended and refined over time. This basic principle can also be found in extreme programming. This way of programming refutes the traditional separation into specification and implementation, and instead iterations are done in small steps on runnable code.

Fractal Sierpinsky triangle (Source: wikimedia commons)

From the metrics of this website I know that only a very small proportion of my blog posts are read by larger numbers of readers. So, it is not really worthwhile to write out detailed blog articles. Many readers might even be happier to read a concise explanation than a longer elaboration. A blog is a very low-barrier way of publishing one’s own work. Often writing the blog post out is more important than it being read.

Iterative blogging may have several advantages. It takes much less time to write out and publish a first readable draft than a polished article. Because the blog post is seen as a work in progress there is less pressure of it to be „perfect“. If further information on a topic is encountered it can be integrated into the text. These blog posts can serve as first drafts to extend into full articles for publishing on platforms such as Medium.

An disadvantage might be that it encourages creating larger masses of low-quality content. However, if one regrets publishing a low-quality piece, it can easily be reverted back to an unpublished draft with contemporary website content management frameworks, like wordpress for this website.

Another disadvantage might be that it is more difficult to find the right time to post the link to the article on social media. If people read a short draft version of the text, they will not come back a few months later to read the extended version. A practical approach might be to post the draft version, and then repost it if large extensions to the text are made after a few months. Another practical thing to do is to include an editing history with the major milestones at the end of each blog post, or possible also a version number.

So, iterative blogging is someting I will try out. Whether it really works, I will know in a few weeks or months.

Blog post history:

19.02.2021: First version published