Friday, November 14, 2008

Blogging is hard!

Two months and only two posts. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I started this blog but I was certainly hoping to be more prolific than this. In retrospect I'm not sure why I had this expectation: I never finished my dissertation in grad school and I never published any of my research papers. The problem is that once you've done the research, had the idea or experience that is the germ of an essay, it's over and done with. Why revisit it to try and tease out clearly communicable thoughts to communicate to others, time to move on to something else new and shiny.

This is the great allure of programming to me -- you can have an idea, code it, debug it and ship it without having to explain it. Explaining something takes far too long and even then it's unlikely that your audience has understood your message. Writing is hard, very hard. These missives are meant to be short and to the point (unless you are Steve Yegge.. but his blogs ARE short and to the point, it's just that the point is really a very thick novel.)

Speaking of the point, I did have one... let's see, ah yes... Blogging is hard, very hard. It's hard because it's easier to go design a new feature and code it or to verbally market that same feature in a product meeting than it is to clearly explain that feature and document it in written human language. Coding allows you to be precise; even if you are a newbie or don't know what you are doing and are not keeping it simple and don't have clear requirements you can create a mangled method of some kind that works -- it will compile and run (and if you actually are smart enough to use TDD, it will pass your tests.) You get some sort of external validation and thus gratification on your creativity immediately. The same holds true for verbal explication; you can expound ad naseum and even if you've lost focus and shifted gears several times, if you speak with animation, conviction and passion you will be believed and will either sell your idea or at least what your audience PERCEIVES as your idea.

Unfortunately writing, especially the combination of succinct reportage and witty column that typifies the best blogging, is much more challenging. Not only do you have to force yourself to hit the keyboard and actually delve into your thoughts, but then you have to attempt to make it interesting and esthetically pleasing. The hell with that -- I'm going to go code, the compiler while it is judgemental is easily pacified... an external audience that cannot be browbeat or seen is much more frightening. But I want to get better at writing and I want to engage a wider audience so I can become a better professional and perhaps a better person. So instead of having an idea and then abandoning it either before starting to write a blog or giving up after jotting down hundreds of ill-fitting and awkward words that cry out for editing, I'm going to try to just post something -- at least once a week, if not more frequently. So when I have a rant about something I encounter, like my post about API docs yesterday, I'm just going to put it out here. Hopefully I'll get better over time, but instead of puttering away on half-finished, never-ending posts I am moving the suffering out to whoever reads this and resolving to just post. Enjoy.

2 comments:

  • Stanley says:
    November 19, 2008 at 3:21 PM

    Is this where they got the idea of "post-it notes"?

    I m your devoted fan... unless you do not include my blog in your blog following list!

    cheers

  • hromanko says:
    November 20, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    @Stanley -- you asked for it, now you have the dubious honour to be linked to my blogroll.