Watch Me Make Mistakes

November 2011

Stypi is a new startup we funded that's continuing where Etherpad left off. Like Etherpad, Stypi can replay your edits. I asked the founders to make something special for me: a version of playback that shows text that will ultimately be deleted in yellow.

Startups in 13 Sentences

What struck me most is the way writing seems for me to be a stick-slip phenomenon. Initially I fumble about and keep rewriting the same sentence over and over. Then I get rolling and write a sentence or two that make it almost intact into the final version, and then I get stuck again. Watching these parts is like watching a mouse find its way through a maze.

There are several different types of things that get deleted. There are false starts, which get deleted immediately. There are things I get wrong the first time but don't realize it. Those I go back and rewrite later. And there are awkward or unnecessary words and sentences, most of which I catch in successive passes near the end. It's interesting how often the last sentence of a paragraph can simply be deleted.