How is a riff similar to Andy’s evergreen/atomic notes?

Tom’s definition of a riff

  • An inquisitive title, something that is not “the ultimate guide” but more “some notes on…”
  • A few references - connecting the dots between some links, quotes from other sources
  • An anecdote from your own work that provides rich texture and context for what you do
  • Some open questions that invite people to
  • A deliberate small list of 3-5 people you can send the post to

Andy’s principles of evergreen notes

  • Atomic
  • Concept oriented
  • densely linked
  • written for yourself by default, disregarding audience

Similarities & differences

The big differences seem to be the motivation, but the execution shares similar principles.

According to my understanding, Tom writes from the lens of an independent consultant. he needs to generate leads, at the same time doesn’t want to rely on classical content marketing approaches alone.

Andy on the other hand is writing for research, and has decided to make a large portion (all?) of his notes public. That said, there are a lot of similarities, some I may not even be aware of.

  • Tom mentions explicitly that riffs keep notes small. Atomic, like Andy says
  • One says a few references, the other says densely linked. I believe there’s a magic middle, different for each note of course.
  • Small list of people vs writing for yourself by default share the same benefits. Small list of people is usually people you trust with a first draft & unpolished writing, friends that help you workshop & shape your ideas.
  • Both their approaches relieve the pressure of getting things right the first time, or trying to write digestible/publishable work off the bat - this can be a distraction in the initial stages of ideation/exploration. Usually good to treat them as separate activities.

When a topic is hard enough to distill on its own, the extra cognitive load of considering a reader overwhelms me.

Related reading