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.