If we take a broad view of the content creation pipeline, there are many steps leading up to the publication of a piece of work:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Writing up the final version
- Giving feedback
In addition, if we consider just the final output format, there are many styles:
- Blog post
- Wiki page
- Social media post (e.g., Facebook post)
- Academic paper
Finally there is a choice to focus on the kind of contribution:
- Original idea/discovery
- Replication (e.g., the replication of a scientific study)
We can use the term “contribution style” to refer to these choices. Why are some contribution styles more popular than others? How do people decide what contribution style to use? Are some contribution styles “better” than others? Why are some contribution styles more socially or financially rewarded than others?
The “opposite” of contribution style might be “consumption style”: one’s preferred consumption format for information. One can ask similar questions like, should one prefer certain formats? How should one reward the creation of work (e.g., principles for “liking” things on Facebook)? Should one stick to popularizations of scientific works or read the original papers (this isn’t a dichotomy)?
How do people decide what contribution style to use? In general, the decision process seems to involve many factors (how fun it seems, value produced, prestige, habit) and might not be fully conscious.
This page is an attempt to abstract several things I have been puzzling over:
- Why do some people make content creation a lifestyle, by being extremely transparent about “what they are up to” by releasing things online, while other people are private about what they do?
- The Facebook “liking” problem: how do I choose what things to react to on Facebook? What am I even optimizing for? How do I avoid some things I don’t like about Facebook reactions, like circlejerking behavior, and liking things that are “too popular”?
- The feeling that blogging is “overrated” or socially over-rewarded compared to editing wikis. (Wikis have a canonicity about them, yet people prefer to imprint their ego on everything by posting things on their website or writing a blog post with their name on it.)