Publishing automation

December 14, 2019

This is the first note in a series on publishing automation.

I think there’s a productivity gap in how we write articles and publish to the web. The tools that we feel the most productive writing with are usually not the same tools that we use to effectively manage and publish content. Some examples of this:

  • You have a Wordpress or Squarespace blog and use the in-browser editor as your main writing tool. You get distracted because you’re in a browser and this editor is just one interesting tab of many. Distraction is just a Google search away. The article is never published.
  • You have a Content Management System (CMS) that is “headless,” or completely separate from your website. You write with their in-browser editor and face problem #1. In addition, the fiddly task of managing blocks of content and the links between them slows down your productivity further. The article is published, albeit with much more time and effort than you hoped.
  • You use either of the above systems, but you also use your favorite writing tools locally to hash out your article. Then, you upload it to wherever it is you publish from. The main act of writing is efficient, but the disconnect and context switch is not. Time used bridging this gap is time lost writing.

These scenarios have a number of assumptions, but put side by side, a pattern emerges. If we could write where we’re most productive and publish from there, I think we’d have the greatest shot at keeping the crucial momentum of writing going.

The project

What if the tools we use could talk to each other seamlessly? Over the last few months, I tinkered on an automated workflow tailored to the way I write, manage and publish notes on this site. In the next few articles I’ll talk in greater depth about each step of the process:

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