Attention Conservation Notices

I have followed Cosma Shalizi’s blog / site for a long time, and there is a wealth of information on various technical fields such as statistics, computer science, economics, psychology, and much more. Really, his notebooks are a good index of interesting things. Every time I look through it I see new references to dense readings. Cosma also publishes blog posts, and these are often centered around books (he likely reads more hard books in a year than most people do in a lifetime) and classes that he is teaching.

One of the things I like about his blog is that the articles are long but often have an Attention Conservation Notice at the top. This is a longer version of tl;dr (too long; didn’t read), a summary or editor’s note on what is important. Some of my favorites are “I have no taste” (when he is talking about “books to read while algae grow in your fur”) or “7800 words about the intricacies of [some specific controversy in a subset of some specific field]”.

I think that this is a useful way to deliver value without wasting your audience’s time. Readers can quickly ascertain whether the article is likely to give them value now or in the future. Authors can publish things without quite as much self-filtering. I’d like it if more sites did the same thing.

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