Coding Horror’s Jeff Atwood on the problems of thinking about thinking, blogging about blogging, and podcasting about podcasting.
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of the meta. It’s seductive in a way that is subtly but deeply dangerous. It’s far easier to introspect and write about the process of, say .. blogging .. than it is to think up, research, and write about an interesting new topic on your blog. Meta-work becomes a reflex, a habit, an addiction, and ultimately a replacement for real productive work. It’s something I think everyone should watch out for, whatever walk of life or career you happen to have. In fact, I’ve come up with a zingy little catch phrase to help people remind themselves, and their coworkers, how toxic this stuff can be — meta is murder.
I don’t agree entirely on always avoiding it though. Sometimes you need to think about a process before taking an action. Some of us just can’t avoid it. We’re wired that way. But I understand the concern. The problem as the post states in the end, is when it hinders you from taking action and you let it take you to weird and deeper levels of abstraction. Simen of DailyMeh has a great post about this. Unless you’re Jacques Derrida or Noam Chomsky you shouldn’t go there.