Discover more from Software Design: Tidy First?
Sooner Versus Longer
I’ve written about why I’m writing my next book (on software design) as a paid subscription.
I thought this would tidily align incentives between myself as the author & my readers. I would be incentivized to write because I wanted to retain & attract subscribers. Subscribers would be incentivized to join/continue because they were getting value all along.
One of the themes of Geek Incentives is that all incentive systems have misalignment & unintended consequences, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Tidy First? book incentives also contain misalignment & unintended consequences. To paraphrase Monty Python, though, no one intends unintended consequences. Here’s the dilemma:
I came back from a 3-week poker vacation ready to write. Yesterday I wrote a useful chapter on batching tidyings into pull requests. This morning I was getting fired up to write a follow-up chapter on the rhythm of tidying when I felt a tug to slow down. What’s going on?
What was happening is that I both want more subscribers (through attraction & retention) & I want to hang on to those subscribers longer. I generally try to publish a chapter a week. If I publish chapters on succeeding days, I don’t guess I’ll attract more subscribers but I will hang on to those subscribers for a shorter period.
I have a counteracting intrinsic incentive, which is to get the damn book done so I can get on to the next book. The topic, software design, has naturally split into 3 books based on scope: individual, development team, whole team. I’m eager to get the trilogy finished.
And so I have incentives tugging me every which way. That is part of the nature of incentive systems. If we want to understand incentives as a system, we must add together all the vectors of influence (to be geeky about it) to find the net effect of the system. Then adjust. Always adjust.