Incomplete snippets

Yesterday and two days ago I started writing a snippet called “sensible units – per capita isn’t enough”. In this snippet I take statements with big numbers and rewrite them to make them more intuitive. For example “The global population growth rate is about 1.05% per year.” becomes “In a city of 100,000 (like Mountain View, or New Haven), the population rises by about 1050 people each year (1850 births, 700 deaths). That’s 5 new babies a day in this city on average!”

I didn’t finish the snippet though. While I hope to finish the snippet and publish it this weekend, this experience also made me think about how to publish incomplete snippets.

I’ve had other incomplete snippets over the years. Peer Learning Group was initially an incomplete snippet back in July 2020, which I never published. Eventually (in January 2021) I decided to launch PLG without “finishing” the idea as I’d originally intended. The original idea was going to rely more heavily on automation and in principle could scale well. The actual idea I went with had a fair bit of manual coordination work, but was definitely worthwhile (in part because it actually happened!).

My idea for publishing incomplete snippets is: to start, simply publish the snippet with a label “incomplete” in the title. Then, if I decide to continue the snippet, I will make a copy of the incomplete snippet, and change the date. If I finish it, I will remove incomplete from the title.

Once I have a complete version of the snippet (which might sometimes never happen), I can link from the complete version to all the incomplete versions that preceded it. I may also remove the incomplete snippets from the main snippets index once a complete version is available. Or in that main index I may make the main link go to the complete version, with a smaller link that goes to the incomplete version.

This idea requires a bit of development, but in the spirit of the idea itself, I think I’ll start publishing incomplete snippets even while the incomplete-snippet-publication-idea is itself incomplete.