Epilogue

Epilogue


 

Introduction

I have not been able to decide on a title for this article because I have had an intense debate with myself on whether this article should ever be written. Due to my indecision, I simply gave up trying to title it and decided to called it an epilogue. I also want you to understand that I fought many mental battles with the content of this article before finally deciding to hit the publish button. Things were added, things were removed. Things were re-written. I only hope that the remaining content tells a story that you can understand and appreciate.

Ultimately, I decided to publish this because I think all good stories should have an epilogue. Epilogues give you one final chance to appreciate the story, and I hope that this article gives you one more insight to my story about writing 3danim8’s Blog. If I can tell you what this article represents in a single sentence, I would say that it discusses the story of the driving forces that lead to the creation and ultimate completion of the 3danim8 Blogging Experiment.

Before I decided on the title “epilogue”, I thought of some other possible titles for this article, even before I wrote it. The titles I envisioned are shown below.

  1. My Failure To Generate Engagement While Conducting A Blogging Experiment
  2. My Blogging Experiment, My Gripe, and My Promise To Myself
  3. Blogging and Bragging are Only Different By Two Letters
  4. This Is The Article That I Never Should Have Written

If those titles don’t whet your appetite for what you are about to read, I don’t know what will.

I am hoping that after you read this article, you will understand my trepidation about publishing this and my inability to title this piece. To explain myself properly, I have to go backwards in time.


 

About A Month Ago

Today is November 18, 2015. Seven days ago I ended a love affair, of sorts. I stopped writing my technical blog. I really enjoyed writing my blog and I loved the main characters in my blog.

This wasn’t a snap decision, as it took me about 900 days to get to the end point of a long-term experiment. Once I decided that I hit the stopping point, I changed gears and wrote a very public love story. That was a very fun thing to do and I think I’ll do some more of that later, including telling you what it is like to go through such a difficult break-up.

Now that I got the light-hearted stuff out of the way, I have to get down to business. Real business. Tough business because this article was not easy to write.


 

About Two Months Ago

At the Tableau conference, I heard a talk by Daniel Pink that lit my brain up like the lights on a Christmas tree. My neurons were firing and connecting, flashbacks were occurring and I had a eureka moment of a lifetime as I will explain.

Daniel’s discussion of motivation perfectly explained why I created 3danim8’s Blog. Prior to listening to Daniel, I had no idea of the research related to motivation. I never heard of the concepts that generate motivation, which include autonomy, mastery and purpose.

To understand what I mean by that, you can watch this 10 minute video for the complete explanation of the research behind these findings.  Extracted from this full video, I offer about a half of video as an excerpt (Video 1) that explains why I wrote 3danim8’s Blog.


 

About 2.5 Years Ago

I did a very crazy thing starting in June 2013. I began a blogging experiment.  What exactly does that mean?  You will have to read this article to find out.

If I could tell you to take a pause from reading this, I would do so now. I would like you to consider what I just said. I said that I conducted “An Experiment”. I want you to appreciate that conducting this 2.5 year experiment was equivalent to completing the work for a MS degree, or possibly even a Ph. D. It wasn’t easy and it was work that took a lot of time to complete.

During this “Experiment”, I spent countless hundreds of hours formulating topics, writing and revising articles, recording videos, and publishing over 160+ articles, many of which were technical in nature.  All of this work was being conducted under the umbrella of my “Experiment”.

I wrote everything from single, simple articles, to a full-five article manifesto on completing a modern-day analytics project using Alteryx and Tableau. That work took well over 100 hours to complete by itself.

I exposed my brain to new ways of thinking by creating innovative solution techniques, with insights gained through trial and error testing and by explaining techniques I developed while completing real-world work experience. I also subjected myself to an inordinate energy expenditure. I drove myself very hard for a long time and that wasn’t always a good thing for me.

During “The Experiment”, I created and monitored various blog performance metrics. I also used some process improvement techniques to see if I could become a better blogger. The reason that I did these things had to do with my monitoring of “The Experiment”. The data collected during the experiment was real, focused, and useful in many ways.


The Experiment in Total

From the research I have conducted, this is one of the longest-lasting official blogging experiments that any individual has ever attempted, actually conducted, survived, and decided to write about.

In fact, I cannot find any publications that describe this type of “long-term” blogging experiment. There are published reports of people writing a blog article on a daily basis for a month (as an experiment), or possibly even two months. The people who did that work generally complained about how hard it was for them to accomplish their goal.

In several of these cases, the intent of the experiment was to “gain marketing share” or to improve some other measure of marketing-speak. My experiment wasn’t designed to answer or quantify those types of buzzwords. However, if you want to know how hard it is to write a daily article for a technical topic like Tableau, just ask Nelson Davis what he experienced when he created 30 Tableau articles in 30 days, starting on April 1, 2014. I can guarantee you that it was a huge challenge for him to accomplish that goal because he told me all about it.

There are many blogs that have existed much longer than 2.5 years, but those blogs are ongoing bodies of work that were never designed to be an official “Experiment”. These bogs belong to either (1) really fantastic and prolific people that write the blog for the fun of it (i.e. Andy Kriebel, Russell Christopher), or (2) are professional bloggers that are very prolific writers. These people create a lot more material than what I did, but these people get paid to do it. It’s their job.

Therefore, based on what I can find in the literature, the 3danim8 blogging experiment appears to have some unique characteristics. For this reason, I think that this “Blogging Experiment” should have some value as an “Experiment”. I would think that people would be interested in finding out what was learned by completing this experiment. I think I may be wrong about that, however, and this fact will lead me to telling you about my gripe.


 

Why Should My Experiment Have Value?

When I refer to value, I am not talking about monetary value. This “Tableau Blogging Experiment” never had anything to do with money. I made no money on that blog and I never wanted to.

I am also not referring to the value imparted  to readers by the content of the articles. I know that many of these articles created value because so many wonderful people connected with me to tell me how this work either helped them, inspired them, or otherwise. I have come to understand that type of value very well. I also learned to appreciate those interactions. That type of value humbled me and made it possible for me to complete this “Experiment”.

The type of value I am talking about is different and it has to do with the “Value of the Experiment” itself.

I did everything in this “Experiment” according to my own rules, but I followed very specific guidelines that I first learned back in junior high school. I followed the scientific method (Figure 1) in conducting this experiment.

Scientific_Method

Figure 1 – The Scientific Method defined.


 

Why did I do that? I did that because I am a classically trained scientist. I conducted a “Scientific Experiment” that happened to take 2.5 years to complete and happened to be called my “Tableau Blogging Experiment”.

I created and executed this “Blog Experiment” using the scientific method (Figure 2). There were no influences impacting any of my decisions and I was very consistent with the spirit and intent of a scientific experiment while writing this blog.

Sci_Method_Cht

Figure 2 – The Scientific Method graphically portrayed.


 

The driving forces behind creating and conducting this “Experiment” were several. I wanted to:

  1. Help people learn to love using Tableau and Alteryx like I had experienced.
  2. Help people use software effectively by exploring their creativity so they could do their jobs with more happiness and enjoyment.
  3. Share the passion I have for my work and my life.
  4. Answer a single question (click here to see that what that question was).
  5. To test my hypothesis.

Hypothesis, you ask? What is that (see Step 3 in Figure 2)? I’ll get back to that a little later in this article to explain why my hypothesis is an integral piece to this story.


 

I Have A Gripe About This Experiment

My gripe is that I was completely unable to entice anyone to give a damn about the meaning and value of the experiment itself. Period. It can’t be said any simpler than that.

Now before you either agree or disagree with what I just said, you have to give me the courtesy of explaining myself. I think I deserve that opportunity and I hope that you can read my words with an open mind, to see things from my point of view.

My gripe should not be construed as a personal frustration, because it is not personal, nor is it really emotional. As I have written many times, I have never intended for this experiment to be about me. I was simply the story writer and one of the characters.

The gripe I have is related to a few things I have observed:

  1. Nobody ever questioned why I called this blog a “Tableau Blogging Experiment”.
  2. Nobody ever asked me to describe my hypothesis.
  3. Not a single person, group of people, or company has asked me a single question about the results of the “Blogging Experiment” itself.
  4. Nobody has asked me what I REALLY learned from the experiment. Not Tableau, not Alteryx, not Rich Roll, not David VonderHaar, not WordPress, not Data Science Central, and not even a single reader of the blog (I’ll caveat statement #4 later on, with a late-breaking insight).

The final observation (#4) is really the most surprising and disappointing result of all, from my perspective.

Although I have given dozens of people the opportunity to ask those questions about my experiment, nobody did. I would have also expected that at least one person out of the thousands of people that read 3danim8’s Blog would think to ask me some simple questions like these:

  1. “Wow, that was a huge effort to conduct this experiment. Was it worth it? “
  2. “What did you learn in doing this experiment?”
  3. “Why do you call this an experiment?”
  4. “What made you decide to conduct this experiment?”

For over 900 days, I tried really hard to engage people in the concept of the “Experiment”, but ultimately I was not successful. My scientific experiment was a complete failure with respect to engaging people about the experiment.

What this means to me is that nobody has stopped to think about the meaning of this particular experiment. The experiment came and went, and that was it. There was no discussion on what the results of the experiment were. I think people thought I was just using a buzzword when I decided to call this an “Experiment”. I can assure you that I was not just using a buzzword.

To understand what I mean about engagement, I offer you a story that exemplifies what I had hoped to achieve by conducting this blogging experiment.


 

A Personal Engagement From Another Time and Another Place

It was many years ago (either 2000 or 2001) when I met an amazing guy one evening in the parking lot of a Books-A-Million store in Knoxville, TN. His name was David Michael Anthony. If I could turn back the clock, I would do so to that day so that you could see and hear David. He was 6’2”, about 230 pounds of raw, unadulterated power. He was a man on a mission, and his mission was to end hunger for the homeless.

Back 15 years ago, I could have shown you my own photos of him as well as thousands of photos of him riding his bike (Figure 3) anywhere from Florida to Alaska. There were countless articles written about him, he had his own website, satellite phone, real-time tracking system, etc. David was doing real-time analytics before we had even thought of the words.

DMA

Figure 3 – The journey of David Michael Anthony.


 

David also happened to be pulling a 1,240 pound trailer behind a mountain bike. Yes, that is right, a 1,240 pound trailer. As I already said, David was very strong both mentally and physically and he was dynamic, interesting, and focused on a good cause. Some people said that he was somewhat unusual or strange, but I thought he was awesome.

David told me he was training to be on the US national team to have a chance to make the 2004 Olympics as a road cyclist and/or time trialist. He wanted to be so strong on the bike that nobody could out-perform him. So he rode his bike, day after day, mile after mile through every conceivable environment. He gobbled up the worst that Mother Nature could throw at him and he overcame all the odds.

Tens of thousands of miles stacked up on one another as he crossed the US from east to west, west to east, north to south and every which way it could be done. He rode in Alaska blizzards, driving Florida rainstorms, hailstorms, pulled that trailer over the highest mountains, and crashed going down them. He broke many bicycle frames, chains and wheels due to the stresses he imparted on that equipment. All the while, he raised money for the homeless. In a way, he was a kindred spirit to the great song writer Harry Chapin, because Harry was also on a mission to end world hunger.

So on this particular early evening when I saw David resting in a parking lot, I went over to him and I “engaged him”.  I asked him what he was doing and why he was doing it. I knew that what I was seeing was very special. It was so obvious that I couldn’t help myself by taking the time to get to know him. I needed to engage him and my response to him was automatic. This engagement was irresistible because this situation was so unique.

At the time, I was riding my bike to and from work, about 36 miles a day, along with an Olympic cyclist that I worked with. So the next day I convinced David to join us for lunch, which he did. The next day, I saw a man eat about half of a restaurant as my friend told him what he needed to do to prepare to make the Olympics. My friend was an authority in this regard because he had made the US pursuit team in 1996 as a 42-year old cyclist. In other words, my friend knew what it would take for David to reach his goal. When our lunch was over, David rode away into the Tennessee hills and I never saw him in person again.

But see him again, I did. Hundreds of times as I watched his journey continue. I tracked him via his blog and the TV segments that were filmed along the way. In some ways, I admired his free spirit and iron will for completing his mission.

Now about 15 years later, the information about David’s story is quickly fading with the passage of time. One day about 5 years ago, I decided to see if I could find David. Instead of being able to connect with him again, I saw an article that indicated that David had died when he was hit by multiple cars as he tried to run away from a minor traffic accident he was involved in. That discovery made me sad.

Here was a guy that tried to make a difference, and did make a difference to a lot of hungry people. His story was never really told, in total. I wish someone had written a book about what he did. I would have bought that book. I would still love to read his journals if they exist.

 


 

Why I Feel Like I Failed In My Blogging Experiment

Since I have been unable to engage anyone with the concept of my experiment, it seems to me that this experiment might have been a huge waste of time. From my perspective, it simply doesn’t matter to anyone (except me) what happened, what was learned, and what can be changed to make blogging even better. Either people don’t think I learned anything useful, or they simply don’t care. Either way, it makes me feel like I failed.

That result is a huge disappointment to me as a scientist because the composite work I did in the experiment had no impact. The individual contributions on an article by article basis may have helped people, but the bigger picture was completely missed – even by WordPress itself.

With over 409 million people reading over 20 billion WordPress pages each month, I would have thought that they might have an interest in hearing what I learned because of the uniqueness of my experiment. Nope –  I was wrong.

I even tried to bait WordPress into asking me the question after sending them a link to my final article:

WordPress: Very cool article. Thanks for sharing!

Me: You’re welcome. Although my blog was technical in nature, I have written a lot about blogging lessons learned.

WordPress: Nothing wrong with a technical blog. Though the experiment is over, we hope you’ll write whenever you’re up for it. Cheers!

Their response actually recognized that I conducted an experiment (which surprised me a bit), but then they failed to engage. They just encouraged me to write sometime in the future.

What I hoped WordPress would have said would have been something like this:

Oh, really? We would like to know what have you learned from this experiment! We would be interested in hearing about that since we have a few million bloggers that might be able to use the information you uncovered!

Nope. They didn’t listen either. Nobody did.

At this point, I could document a fairly extensive number of other interactions where I tried to engage people into asking me about the experiment. I’m not going to do that because it will just sound like I’m whining. I know that this article may have already left that impression, and that is why this is the “article that I should never have written”. I certainly didn’t want this experience to end this way.

Before I conclude this line of thought, however, I’d like you to consider this. Imagine that you had an idea that you thought was really important. After some contemplation, you decided to test this idea in an experiment and it took a long time to do. You told your friends, family and co-workers about it because it was something you really liked doing.

While you were doing the work, people would talk about your work with you and some would even share your enthusiasm. Then one day you proclaimed, “I’m now done with testing that idea”.  After you made that statement on that day, nobody asked you whether you proved your idea. No person asked you: “Did you prove your hypothesis?” or even “what did you learn?”.


 

Before I Wrote the Blog

Before I wrote 3danim8’s blog, I believed that I had made an important discovery related to how we are now learning. I realized that reading blogs was how my real-time learning as a scientist, mathematician, programmer, data analyst, and process improvement consultant was happening.

I found real-time solutions to the problems I was trying to solve, simply by reading blogs. This development was clear to me ever since the beginning of the world wide web. Online content was spreading and making me smarter.

I never really took the time to understand that my improvements were a result of the selfless work of so many people taking their time to write blog articles. I learned techniques, I grabbed code snippets, I improved my ability to solve problems, all thanks to anonymous writers that realized before I did, that writing blog articles is important. Blog articles represent the work of teachers that are available to you at any given moment. They are there when you need them.  How great is that?

This insight took me years to understand because of the changing nature of search engines, internet connectivity, the emergence of multiple blogging platforms, and the explosion of ideas people were documenting during their creative times. The fact that blogging gave people an outlet for their creativity without the need for peer-reviewed journal articles was simply astounding to me. Now thanks to Daniel Pink, I have a better idea why people do this type of work in their “spare time”.

I wondered if my insight was true. I wondered if bloggers were changing the way we were learning. So I created a hypothesis. I then spent 900 days testing that hypothesis. I proceeded to complete the experiment. But to this day, I have never written the complete account of what was learned from the experiment. In other words, I have not completed step 7 shown in Figure 2. Although I have completed the testing phase of the experiment, I haven’t written my conclusions.


 

The Methods Used For Testing My Hypothesis

Even though I was not able to engage anyone in the concept of my “scientific experiment”, I wonder about a couple of questions. First, I wonder if anyone followed the experiment from beginning to end. Secondly, I wonder if anyone considered why I used the following techniques in the experiment:

  1. Used music, lyrics, and videos as a compliment to my writing
  2. Created multiple-piece articles, including interweaving multiple, multi-piece articles at the same time
  3. Used extensive hyperlinks to my other articles and previously published work
  4. Developed stories over time
  5. Showed examples using personal data
  6. Tried to engage with well-known entities
  7. Explained very personal aspects of my life
  8. Developed and explained advanced mathematical formulations
  9. Developed and explained simple techniques
  10. Conducted extensive benchmarks studies of Tableau
  11. Challenged the software companies to fix problems, improve documentation, or extend capabilities
  12. Wrote about the work of many members of the Tableau and Alteryx communities
  13. Wrote about company cultures
  14. Used humor in technical articles
  15. Recognized key accomplishments of people that are making a difference in how we learn by reading blogs
  16. Used graphics created by the software products I was explaining
  17. Took the time to explain in great detail configuration settings used in Alteryx and Tableau
  18. Used numbering and descriptive captions to explain the content of figures and tables
  19. Wrote some articles with personal stories embedded and other articles simply with technical details
  20. Used multiple blogging themes throughout the experiment
  21. Used no social media promotion of the blog other than a single Twitter tweet per article
  22. Used predictive analytics on the blog readership
  23. Implemented analytics for every article written
  24. Categorized every article written
  25. Used Tableau Public to track the blog development and content over time
  26. Provided code, data, and workbooks for readers to use
  27. Wrote about sports, stats, players and performance visualized with analytics
  28. Why I published interim results within the timeframe of the experiment in for the form of “lessons learned”
  29. I could go on, as this list is quite extensive.

For the record, these were all techniques I was testing as part of the experiment. The comprehensive evaluation of the success and/or failure of these techniques has never been published. In fact, the complete analysis has not been finished. I’m considering writing the article to complete Step 7 of Figure 2. That article will be titled: “The Results of 3danim8’s Blogging Experiment”.


 

On the Brighter Side (Always end on a good note!)

I tried to create engagement about the Tableau Blogging Experiment with dozens of people, like I had experienced with David Michael Anthony. I was sure I could do it. It was so obvious I could do it because the Tableau community is so supportive, vibrant and willing to discuss all topics that are Tableau.  It was a no-brainer, or so I thought.

I came close to achieving the elusive goal four times. I’ll present the three most recent examples first, followed by a historical encounter. As a bonus, I will also describe something that happened today.

Encounter #1

Within a few minutes of publishing the article that announced the conclusion of my experiment, I received a phone call from Joe Mako. I would say that if anyone understood the value of what I was doing, Joe would be that person. He understood the effort, commitment, and the value of the totality of the content I produced. Joe understood the value of not only the individual articles, but he also understood the overall contribution to the knowledge base being produced for Tableau and Alteryx. We discussed these types of things many times throughout the course of the experiment.

The reason Joe called me was to make me an offer. He offered to house the entire content of 3danim8’s Blog on a server that he maintains. He told me that he didn’t want to lose this information because he understood its value. For this offer, I was flattered. Unfortunately the effort required to move this huge volume of work to another server would be very extensive, so I think I’ll just keep paying the $100 bucks per year to have WordPress hold the information.  I really appreciated that phone call from a guy that I consider as a very good friend of mine. Joe is a consistently excellent thinker and person and is someone I can always count on in so many ways.

Encounter #2

About a week or so after the conclusion article was published,  I received a somewhat harsh criticism from a girl that I have never met. She challenged me in a way that nobody had ever done by writing a comment on my final article. Figure 4 shows her comments to me.

brittne

Figure 4 – The challenge given to me regarding my next project – The Jett Black Experiment.


 

Even though this comment was critical in nature, she questioned my usage of the word “experiment”. Her perspective was that my “experiment” was more about self-promotion than of an honorable study. She had concerns about potential negative effects I might have on my son, even going as far as saying she wasn’t sure that she would like to have that type of “Dad experience”.

Even though I bristled at that comment when I received it, I appreciated it more than any other comment I had ever received. Her courage to challenge me through this comment is the type of engagement that I hoped to have about the experiment.

So engage, I did. I wrote to her to further explain my motivations for the Jett Black Experiment. I explained why I wanted to do this for my son. I gave her the context she was looking for. In the course of a day, I made a new friend, a person that I can respect because she is a critical thinker and took the time to engage me in the way she did. That was awesome, so thank you Brittne Nelson!

Encounter #3

Elissa Fink of Tableau Software is my data rockstar. I have been watching videos of her doing her thing on stage at Tableau conferences for a few years now. When I engaged her at the Tableau conference after the keynote address, she was kind and willing to listen to my rambling in the midst of a very stressful time for her.

I told her about why I was stopping this blogging experiment. I told her about my next experiment. She immediately understood what I was telling her. In response, she offered me three amazing gifts to help me in my work.

First, she gave me a front row seat for Neil Tyson Degrasse’s keynote. that was very cool as the giant camera boom came flying over my head and I got a close-up view of Neil in his socks. Yes, in his socks. I wondered why he didn’t wear shoes and he explained it in the Q&A session afterwards. Second, she offered to give me a Tableau license so that I could teach Jett all about Tableau software. Third, she promised me that if I completed the Jett Black experiment, that Jett would be given a chance to give his presentation at TCC 2018. Wow, what an offer that was!

I promised her that I wasn’t crazy and that we would be ready.  Based on our first quarter of the experiment, I can tell you that I’m now more confident that ever that WE WILL BE READY.

There is a reason why Elissa was the first person from Tableau that I ever followed on Twitter. She is a visionary – so thank you Elissa for following through with everything you said you would. You are a gem.

Encounter #4

The earliest professional engagement (Figure 5) I had during the blogging experiment happened within 6 months of starting and it was from a lady named Anna. She worked for Experfy, which is a product of the Harvard Innovations Lab. She recognized that 3danim8’s blog was different than many other technical blogs, so she sent me an email. In that email, she extended an invitation for me to write a guest blog about big data analytics. Two years later, I now I think I might be ready to write that article and I know what I want to say. Can you guess what it would be?

Anna

Figure 5 – This inquiry was sent to me in Jan 2014, or 6 months after I began writing my blog.


Encounter #5

Today it happened – finally! It is 12/9/15, or 922 days after the blog began, and about a month after it ended. Someone actually asked me why I conducted the experiment! Someone actually engaged me about the experiment itself, rather than just about the blog articles. In fairness, this person had never read my blog. I had just met him at work a few minutes before he asked me the question.

For proof of this, just watch the 1 minute video (Video #2) shown below. I recorded this video just after he asked me the question. Many thanks to my new friend, Jonathan Hodge. Jonathan is a person with an abundance of energy coupled with a gregarious nature, and a lot of talent to boot. I am sure it will be fun working with him on Tableau topics.

Now I feel relieved that I have been asked!


 

Final Thoughts

I have three questions for anyone reading this article.

  1. Do you want to make a guess at what my hypothesis was when I formed it in mid-2013?
  2. Do you want me to tell you what what I learned from this experiment?
  3. Is anyone out there interested in seeing a final report, which means I finish Step 7 of the scientific method?
/* Hello World program */

#include<stdio.h>

main()
{
    printf("Hello, World? \n");
    printf("Is anyone out there listening? \n");
    printf("Is there anyone wanting to get better at blogging?\n");
    printf("If so, it might be time to engage.\n");
    printf("It might be your time to learn Tableau and Alteryx!\n");
    printf("If you want me to write Step 7, just engage me.\n");
    printf("I promise you won't read buzz words.\n");
    printf("I promise you won't read about marketing.\n");
    printf("I promise you will learn a lot.\n");
    printf("I also promise that I will not\n");
    printf("write it without sufficient engagement.\n");
    printf("The choice is yours.\n");
}

 

14 thoughts on “Epilogue

  1. Hi Ken,

    I want to know what you learned from the experiment. I’ve tried in the past to start my own blog, but I struggle to find what to say. There are so many experts in Tableau doing so many amazing things, I don’t know what I could bring to the table.

    I’d like to see your report. And about the site, will you keep it up? If not, please take up Joe Mako on his offer!

    As for your hypothesis… I don’t know. I will say this: I’ve been using blogs as a source of knowledge for quite a while now, not just for Tableau. This is the first article that’s made me aware of the value of this platform, and how I can choose to be a part of it, whether it’s commenting, blogging myself, or just sharing content.

    While I appreciated the authors for what they imparted, I never thought about their own motivations. Now I’m much more aware, thanks to your lengthy article.

    Thanks for this!

    • Carlos,

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments. I promise to keep the site up. There are a lot of interesting things captured in those articles and I use them every day!

      I am very happy that you comprehended what my message was in that article. The work of bloggers is important. We are collectively changing the pace of innovation. We are empowering each other by teaching each other, sharing knowledge, and challenging each other to get better. It is a fun and important endeavor.

      By simply commenting on this article, you have motivated me to take the next step to complete the full analysis of my experiment. I know that it might take me a month or two to complete that work, but knowing that you want to see the results gives me the motivation to do it. I can’t promise when it will be done, but I know that one day I will recharge myself enough to take on that task.

      Thank you again,

      Ken

      • I can’t wait to see the end product! I’m sure plenty of other people are looking forward to it.

        In the meantime, I’ll go through your blog from the beginning. I’m sure there’s plenty to learn.

        Thanks!

  2. Yes! I have to admit, I was a bit late to the game; when I originally landed on one of your articles, I did not realize this was an actual experiment. The first I heard of it was on our last hangout, and I never got to read the conclusion, until now. The numbers are impressive, and I know our team would love to hear about your learnings as we work on improving our own blogs and look to sharpen the profiles of our ACEs. Thank you for the wealth of knowledge you have shared!

    While I know your priorities have moved away from regular blogging, I do hope we will have the opportunity to get a glimpse of Jett’s journey to TC18 & Inspire. 😉 I’ll look forward to it!

    • Hi Julie,

      Thanks so much for writing! Here is one of the things you should know. I didn’t broadcast it very much in writing that my blog was an experiment because I didn’t want the experiment to be impacted by people thinking it was some kind of weird thing to do. Most of the time, I told people in person that it was an experiment, which were the times that I was waiting to see if anyone asked me the strategic questions I outlined in the article. The blog was written as a blog, plain and simple. The fact that there were scientific underpinnings behind the facade of the blog was really inconsequential. In certain articles I wrote about that, so it wasn’t a complete mystery for a lot of people that followed what I was doing that the experiment would have an ending point.

      Since I had been working as a process improvement consultant for many years doing quantitative experiments that investigated the impact that multi-variables had on a process (in this case the process is writing a blog), it was only natural for me to do an experiment like this. I didn’t go all the way and formulate a rigid framework for the experiment because I felt like I needed to allow the experiment to migrate over time as I discovered findings. As Ned wrote to me today, I did a little of this: “I threw some shit against the wall and see what stuck”, but I did more than just that. When my batteries get recharged enough, I’ll get down to business and use Alteryx and Tableau to tell the complete story. Until then, thanks for writing and doing all the great stuff you do at Alteryx. Now I’ll have more time for community work at Alteryx.

      By the way, Jett walks around asking me: “Daddy, when can we do more Jett Black Experiments?”. He loves it and he is kicking some butt. I can’t wait to show you what I mean.

      Ken

  3. Hi Ken,

    I, too, never considered that there was anything afoot other than a passionate and articulate guy creating a blog both for his own reference and to share with others. But as I’ve gotten to know you (via your blog), it doesn’t surprise me in the least to know that there were multiple layers to this, i.e. that you’ve created a solid standalone blog that is rich with content that the community can and does reference, but you’ve also gathered 2+ years’ worth of interaction data that you can use to answer some of the questions you had going into this experiment.

    As a novice blogger myself, I am very interested to know what you discovered via this experiment and how I can apply any of it to my own little corner of the universe. And if you find yourself in need of any lab assistants (or rats) as you prepare your findings, let me know. 🙂

    -Mike

  4. Hello Ken,

    I read carefully your epilogue, and I feel swimming in an ocean of sadness. You decided to stop this experiment, and maybe this is the right thing, but I am not quite sure. You see, a blog is social by nature, I do not think that could have too much scientific badges attached.

    I found your blog a couple of weeks earlier, searching for Alteryx benchmarks.
    I would love to share with us yours findings, aka the answers to that 3 big questions.

    If you like any of my artwork, please let me know, and I will send you a 100% discount coupon code. (http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/cristian-vasile)

    Regards,
    Cristian.

    • Hi Cristian,

      Thanks for writing and giving me your input. The work required to complete this experiment was quite large. In a lot of ways, I needed to end the experiment for my own sanity. Once I have the time to do the complete analysis the way I want to do it (a couple of months), you will see another article that discusses the results of the experiment.

      As I mentioned in the conculsion article, I don’t know if I will continue to publish more to this blog. Chances are good that I will because I still have unfinished work and a long list of other examples to demonstrate. However, my focus is now on my family and specifically working with my son Jett. I only have once chance to impact him during his formative years, while his brain is rapidly expanding , so I must make the most of this opportunity. Since I have two college-age kids in the household, I know how fast time goes by.

      Thanks for reading and I’ll be getting in touch with you about your fantastic art work. I find it very interesting that you wrote to me because I have a serious passion for math-based artwork.

      Thanks,

      Ken

  5. To be honest when I first read this and prior posts my gut reaction was that everyone, to some degree, enters blogging as an experiment; I started blogging approximately two years ago and that too was an experiment in whether people would read. Exactly the same question as you had when you started yours.

    On reflection I guess the problem in my understanding here comes in the two meanings of the word experiment.

    My blog “experiment” was a synonym for trial – if it hadn’t been a successful experiment / trial I’d have stopped blogging.

    That is the original way I envisaged your “experiment” and the fact it was successful as a trial is in no doubt (hence why I didn’t “give a damn” because it was clearly a successful blog, I sure hope no one is doubting that). However by the sounds of it you see your experiment as more of a scientific investigation for research purposes.

    There are already a lot of articles and information on the internet around creating a successful blog, no doubt involving significant research, and so I’m surprised you ascertain that there aren’t others that have done this kind of research before. Is it not possible other bloggers are approaching their blog in a similar way without drawing attention to the value of the method / data? I know as a blogger myself I have played with all the methods you listed above to try and improve my content and increase sharing and viewer statistics but I don’t necessarily see this as an “experiment”. I’m keen to find out more about what makes your approach different?

    So I’d love to know more details around how you set up the experiment and the scientific method you followed and what makes it different to other people blogging regularly.

    Two immediate questions that spring to mind:

    – How did you ensure the methods you used were not influenced by the success of your blog?

    – How did you control these variables? Did you perform A/B testing with different viewers of the same content getting different themes or content?

    As you can see from the above questions the interest I have is in the methodology initially, then we can engage in the one step of the scientific process you missed “Peer Review”. Only then can we validate your findings and conclusions – which I look forward to helping with.

    • Hi Chris,

      Awesome commentary, as usual. By now, you and I have had an off-line discussion of your comments and I have given you some more information. Whenever I get the energy and time to complete the final analysis, your input as a reviewer will be requested.

      Now you understand that I have ended the experiment. The final article, the results, are yet to be written. Once that is written, I might, and I repeat might, continue to write a few things every now and then! It doesn’t mean I changed my mind about blogging, it just means that the experiment is over, results are in, and any new articles I choose to write will be the best I can produce. After all, doing the experiment and analyzing the results were my method of learning to be a good blogger. It would be a shame if I didn’t put that knowledge to work.

      By the way, you are setting a very high standard for great Tableau applications and writing great articles. Keep up the great work at https://sciolisticramblings.wordpress.com/! In particular, here is your take on the top 10 blogging tips: https://sciolisticramblings.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/my-10-blogging-tips/

      Thanks,

      Ken

  6. Pingback: Text Analytics Improved With Tableau Clustering | 3danim8's Blog

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