The iPad, iA Writer, and prolific blogging
A few people recently have asked me “the secret” of my prolific blogging output, which includes not just currybetdotnet but the occasional foray into guest commentary for sites like journalism.co.uk and The Media Briefing, as well as regular contributions to the Inside Guardian.co.uk and Guardian Developer blogs. Indeed, Cennydd Bowles and Matthew Solle were taunting me about it while they were at the recent UX writing retreat.
"Two blog posts in one morning - a new record!" "Nah, I bet @currybet has done four..."
Part of this is just due to the fact that I’ve always written quickly, and years of practice now mean that I can get my thoughts out very fast. I’ve also got adept at writing up notes when I’m at talks or events that can rapidly be re-purposed into a blog post.
I used to be quite meticulous about having a publishing schedule in a spreadsheet with monthly topics and themes decided in advance. Blogging is much more ad hoc for me now, although it turns out that I am in such a rhythm that I still seem to publish daily without having to plan for it.
In recent months this has partly been due to the transformational impact of the iPad and the iA Writer app.
Although a lot of people have argued that the iPad is a “lean back” consumption device, I've found that this particular app on that particular device has increased my productivity considerably. Balanced on my knees on my daily commute I find that I can easily hammer out 750 words in 20 minutes, which goes a long way towards keeping the blog ticking over.
iA Writer essentially turns nearly the whole iPad screen into a giant typewriter, and is nearly perfect. Mindful of Oliver's recent tweet about people asking for features in a low-cost app, I'd have to say that I'd happily pay for an upgrade that just made it slightly easier to add a tiny bit of mark-up into a document. Not much, just the odd <em>, <strong>, <blockquote>, and I’d rather not have had to learn how to put curly quotes into a document via obscure entities like “ and ”.
"I've seen your app on the web. If you change this&this&this I'll spend the 0.99 it costs." - "Yeah, we're working in shifts to please you."
Or maybe I just need to learn Markdown.
Combining Writer with Dropbox means that I have a synched up version of what I’ve been writing underground on my laptop. It means I can usually take what I’ve written on the tube and have it live on currybetdotnet within about 5 minutes of arriving at Kings Place.
I would worry that this has diminished my down-time away from a screen, but prior to that I was addicted to Angry Birds, so it wasn’t exactly like I was resting my retinas anyway!