This Week on lifehack.org

Another interesting week at lifehack.org! This week’s posts were:

Design Better with CRAP, an introduction to basic design principles for writers, business people, and anyone else who needs to present information in the most effective way possible.
A Basic Guide to Thrift Store Shopping, a guide to making the most out of thrifting.
Advice for Students: 10 Steps Toward Better Research, tips for students who need to develop solid research skills.

Two of the articles, the design article and the research article, were big hits on digg this week, which baffles me. The design article was somewhat controversial (I suppose that’s the word for it) as I had drawn the core ideas there from a book by Robin Williams (not the comedian!) called The Non-Designer’s Design Book. In my rush to get the piece up, I hadn’t even stopped to think that the ideas I relayed were associated with a particular author, so I didn’t mention her — leading to some scattered charges of plagiarism and a visit from Williams herself, who was incredibly gracious. The nice part is that I struck up a nice email conversation with Williams, who suggested a couple of things to talk about in future posts.

The other “dugg” article is more baffling — at the moment, there’s some 900+ diggs on the research article. Since I’m pretty sure there isn’t a huge contingent of reference fanboys and fangirls out there, the best guess I can come up with to explain its digg-ness is that I mention Wikipedia in a positive light (though I recommend students not cite it in their written work). There seems to be some deep craving among students to have their favorite research source validated in some way. Other than that guess, I have no idea what caused so many readers to digg on the research piece.

Which suggests that, although as I’ve written earlier I think I might have a talent for writing stuff that people digg, I really don’t know what that talent consists of. I would not have guessed any of my pieces this week would attract excessive attention from the digg community.

I should add, it’s not that I’m obsessed with digg or anything like that — even though I’m a member from way back, I’ve never actually dugg anything, and I rarely visit the site (I do listen to DiggNation, though). Digg stats are one metric among several available to us as writers, and an intriguing one because digg does drive a lot of (a certain kind of) traffic. Digg offers a way of identifying trends among a subset of our audience, a slightly finer-toothed tool than the other stats available to us (Technorati rankings, Alexa ratings, Google PageRank, etc.). It also offers an interesting, of baffling, insight into my own writing — how well (or, in this case, poorly) I envision my own audience and realize that vision in my work. Not that I’m complaining — there’s worse things than inadvertently appealing to the digg audience!

This week, I’m starting a lengthy series, digging deep into a book I’ve just finished, and we’ll see how much attention the digg audience musters for that. I’m looking forward to it — it’s the first time I’ve tried anything like this, but it’s a fabulous book and I think I have a lot more to learn from it than just reading it can unlock. To find out which book, you’re going to have to wait an either a) read it on lifehack.org, or b) see next week’s lifehack.org post.

‘Cause I’m evil that way.

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