Why write a blog?

A couple notes to those that read these blog posts via the email list
  • the footnotes I use are much easier to deal with in a webbrowser. you click and it pops up right there.
  • in my last post, I linked to a couple youtube videos that got filtered in the email version.
  • The title of the post is a link to the web post.
 So I’ve restarted my blog. I’m also working on getting a podcast going. Why? It’s a bit presumptuous or narcissistic to do so. Why would anyone care? Is it more than an ego thing? Some time ago, my friend Chris R observed that facebook type activity doesn’t make sense to him. Posting assumes that someone cares. At the same time, he hosts a yearly slideshow1 recapping  his adventures. The three that I have been to have been quite interesting and well attended. It’s easy to convince yourself that you have nothing to offer but at the same time have lots you want to offer. So why do I do blog postings? My main reason is the value I put on sharing. I think it’s a blessing when someone shares something interesting with me. I feel compelled to share what I know. “hey! here’s something cool! Maybe you’ll think it’s cool too.” Another reason is that occasionally 2, I get some sort of feedback that people read what I write or that someone listened to something they overheard me say. My words can be worth eavesdropping on. While at Intel, we were expected to write a regular status report listing the things we’ve done since the last report. It used to be weekly, but in recent years, it’s biweekly. Other groups do it monthly. Just about all of these are boring, boring, boring. We write them only because we are compelled to. This is also true for most of my weeklies, the exception being the “random” section. I’ve mentioned this before in this blog. That’s a portion that I’ve attempted to make useful or interesting. A rant, a thought, a neat work thing I learned recently. There were probably 10 people that I knew always read that one section of this one person’s weekly. I’d regularly get a comment, “hey, I tried the trick and it was helpful”, “don’t get Miles started on X”, where X was something I’d ranted about and I hadn’t talked to that person on that topic. It was nice to get the feedback and it was fulfilling to share what I know. But why would anyone feel self-conscious about spilling ones thoughts to the world? Why wouldn’t the world care? A couple reasons come to mind:
  • we’re taught to be modest. Attempts to share knowledge are often equated to showing off. 3
  • facebook culture seems filled with superficial crap. “hey everyone! I’m drinking a latte”. Some people post several times an hour. I mostly avoid it because it’s so difficult to filter through the drivel to get to the good stuff.
  • twitter 4 limits any posting to 140 characters. Anything worth saying surely requires more than 140 characters. This post, without any edits, already has almost 600 words.
So I appreciate the feedback I get from my “fans”, the people who read my weeklies, or blog posts. The people who tolerated and encouraged my questions or commentary at work meetings. It’s because of the little indicators that someone read to the end. It’s because of the blog comments I get 5 I’ve been reading a philosophy  book recently. I haven’t gotten very far; maybe 50 pages. They way I summarize the important parts of it is by way of analogy: when you finish watching a movie, you probably think to yourself “that was a decent movie”, or perhaps “well that was an hour and a half of my life I won’t get back”. When I get to the end of my life, what will I think? Hopefully, it’ll be “that was a good life, well lived” and not, “what a waste”. I bring it up here, because having something interesting to say tells me that I’m doing OK. I can chitchat on many topics. 6 People seem to find it interesting. I think it’s interesting too, I guess that’s why I know it. The internet (da web) is a wonderful place. I wish it had existed when i was a kid 7 Today, I marvel at the things people have put out there. I’m a youtube  junkie. There are podcasts that I devour. There’s nothing you can’t learn how to do with a bit of googling or perhaps posting a question somewhere. This is my contribution to that. 8  

  1. he’s been doing it since the days that this actually involved slides

  2. sometimes more frequently

  3. perhaps this is an artifact of me growing up in a neighborhood where being smart is something many keep low key. Perhaps it’s just a matter of being a teen, but it’s something that’s stuck with me

  4. which I don’t use, haven’t tried, I don’t even have an account

  5. I’m particularly impressed by one comment I got on this blog after three years of not posting. After all that time, she is still subscribed and still reading. It’s especially flattering given how impressive she is herself.

  6. I’ll often comment on stuff I know nothing about. “I have no idea, but if you’d like, I can make up something based on what I do know”. I try to be honest about the basis/source of the things I say

  7. the first time I even heard of web browsing, I blew it off. That was a year or two out of college, when Mosaic was the only brower, before anyone heard of yahoo, netscape, or even infoseek

  8. makes me think of Eddie Murphy’s joke about Johnny Carson’s wife. “Johnny’s worth $300M. What’s she gonna do, go get a job at a boutique? ‘here honey, now we have 300 million and 50 dollars’”

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