Joseph Choe

Don't Repeat Yourself

Despite the title, this log is not about that well-known software development principle. I have thoughts about that particular principle and its damage on software development as a whole, but I’ll save that particular essay for another time, if I write it at all.

Instead, over the last week I’ve been thinking about writing and the mindset a so-called “content creator” takes on over time. From my own observations, there comes a point where a content creator runs out of things to say and starts repeating themselves. They start making the same points perhaps dressed in different ways, but they’re very much retreading old ground, much like someone telling the same old stories over and over again. Sometimes this can even take the form of simply re-posting old content wholesale.

I can feel this happening in myself. I’ve only been writing once a week for the past twenty weeks, and I can already tell I’m running out of new things to write about. I’m feeling the struggle to “create content”.

In some ways, I think these social media platforms encourage this kind of behavior to repeat themselves. The algorithms the platforms use to direct people to different parts of the platform actively encourage “creators” to generate the same type of content they already produced before. Going against that fundamental law means being left out of search engine results or on someone’s personal feed. It’s very strange.

Again, I can see this for myself as well. I know how much engagement some essays have, and I can see that engagement taper off when that post isn’t repeated, so I’m left with the feeling that I need to repeat that earlier success somehow. The incentives drive content creators down certain well-worn paths.

In any case, I still have this problem of not quite knowing what to write about at certain times, hence why I’m writing about not knowing what to write. I’m not quite sure how to fix this problem, except perhaps to branch out of writing purely about software development or technical essays.

The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what I need to do.