On "The fear of blogging about technical topics"
My former colleague Anne Simmons recently wrote an interesting post in which she describes some of the reasons that she finds herself not wanting to write about technical topics..
I wrote a post at the end of 2012 in which I explained some of the reasons why I think writing about what you learn is a good idea but Anne brought up some things I hadn’t thought of which I think are worth addressing.
She’s already described her own mantras to overcome these but I thought it’d still be interesting to share my experience as well:
What do I know that the internet doesn’t already?!
I’ve found that then posts I write in which I aggregate a bunch of information that I found from different places tend to be my most read posts.
A lot of the people that I’ve worked with (including me) when encountered with a stack trace will paste it straight into google to try and solve their problem.
I’ve had the same experience as Anne in spending ages trying to solve a problem and thinking it would be cool to save someone else (usually future me) from having to rediscover the solution in the future.
Will people judge me about what knowledge I do have?/What if I’m wrong?!
In 5 years of writing I’ve only had a couple of times when people commented in what I thought was an unnecessary manner but the majority of feedback has been very positive.
Frequently people actually teach me something that I didn’t know rather than criticising what I do know so for me writing has been a net gain.
A strange side effect is that people think I know much more than I do based on writing about things I’ve been working on.
It can only be a good thing for the internet if more people write about the things that they’re working on so I hope Anne keeps to her one post a month target!
Creative brains are a valuable, limited resource. They shouldn’t be wasted on re-inventing the wheel when there are so many fascinating new problems waiting out there. To behave like a hacker, you have to believe that the thinking time of other hackers is precious — so much so that it’s almost a moral duty for you to share information, solve problems and then give the solutions away just so other hackers can solve new problems instead of having to perpetually re-address old ones.