The main goal of my blog was not to be interesting or show off (even though I do include my side projects etc.), but to write about specific issues I managed to solve. As a software developer, I'm googling for problems all the time. 95% of the time I land on StackOverflow or GitHub issues. But it's about those 5% that I find a blog post which really helps me. My goal was to contribute back the same way.
If you don't like to actively maintain a blog, just set up a GitHub repo + GitHub Pages (or even go for plain GitHub Gists). As long as the information can be found via a search engine, it's good enough.
Finally - don't create a blog just because you feel obliged to. It's totally fine as a developer not to have a blog.
YES! So much of our computing-related triumphs come from documentation that other people wrote. Even super basic stuff that no senior developer or sysadmin would dream of asking, that stuff still needs to be written down by someone.
I have a dozen or so Markdown documents of varying sizes that I need to finish, proof and polish before putting them online. I sorely lacking in motivation (and sleep)
I started this file 17 years ago!
This is enough to fill three average sized novels!
One day... I might have a go at weaving a narrative through it.
Each entry is preceded by the date the entry was made, and followed by a reference to the source.
Because I’ve used some of the material multiple times I’m vaguely aware of the overall structure, and I use it as a bit of a knowledge-base.
As an example I’ll probably pop this comment in there later, so some of the materiel is mundane. Some of it seemed profound in the context of my life at the time, but might make less sense years later out of context.
I’ve only ever deleted a handful of entries in that 17 years.
I guess parts of it are a bit like a diary too, but I’ve never been very good at intentionally keeping a diary.
I've been doing this for years (on paper, no less) without knowing that it had a name.
Edit: Here's an article that gave me some good ideas about different things to do with my book.
Commomplace book - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonplace_book
That's what they all say.
Humans are social creatures and the main motivator for anyone to do anything in public is to "show off" or "be interesting". "All is vanity".
That isn't necessarily a bad thing. Without a desire to compete, impress, prove our worth and so on we'd be living in huts. But it's something to be aware of and something that should be tempered.
I think the pendulum is swinging away from modesty plus self-reflection and towards "people documenting their lives in public".
The part you are correct about is that it is easy to then get wrapped up in how many visitors your blog gets or how many upvotes your answer gets. Those vanity metrics definitely pull on the vanity strings. But, some people definitely do not care about "showing-off" when they put something up online.
If you don't care about showing off then you won't publish anything. People who are actually altruistic won't tell you about their altruism.
This isn't cynicism. The hunger for respect, admiration and recognition is not a bad thing. But it is necessary for people to understand what motivates them. And it is necessary for us to construct a society in which respect is earned by performing actions that are broadly beneficial to that society (as far as we can estimate, anyway).
Today, anyone can broadcast. But that doesn't mean that everyone should broadcast. The old gatekepers weren't perfect but they served a necessary purpose. Who are the new gatekeepers?
My point is that I think your thesis is too cynical. Many people start out writing their blogs or answer questions on public forums with the intent of trying to help other people out. The motivation can be of the form "I solved this problem and I am going to write about it because maybe my solution will save someone else time" rather than "I solved this problem and I am going to write about it so that everyone visits my website and I get famous." Maybe they become more motivated by vanity and blog metrics later on if their blog takes off. But, many people write stuff online with the intent to help others out and not solely out of hunger for respect, admiration and recognition.
> Today, anyone can broadcast. But that doesn't mean that everyone should broadcast. The old gatekepers weren't perfect but they served a necessary purpose. Who are the new gatekeepers?
You lost me here.
In general, there is no such thing as altruism. You always get something out of helping others that keeps you going. Nobody is truly selfless. Altuists are the species which died out long time ago.
I want to agree, but how can we explain near-anonymous StackOverflow profiles who have brilliant answers in them, but no way to identify who the actual person they are?
The fact that everyone ultimately wants peer-approval means we need to create participatory structures in which people are rewarded (with approval) for doing useful things. Stackoverflow is a perfect example of this. People gain karma by answering questions that other people ask.
"Everyone should have a blog" is the opposite of this. It's feel-good nonsense along the lines of "everyone has their own subjective truth and all truths are equal". If we tell everyone to publish it will become near-impossible to find voices worth hearing. It's like saying you should answer every question on stackoverflow whether or not you know the answer.
People see different facets of our identity, only God sees all of them.
In some cases our limited online presence might represent a more authentic version of our 'true selves' than we present in [the rest of] "real life".
>"it will become near-impossible to find voices worth hearing" //
Isn't the OP saying there that we all have a voice worth hearing. You're right that it would be harder to find the voices we could extract the most value from; but realistically that's probably already impossible.
Just like in real life; I'll underwhelm the average sleuth with the amount of badges I have vs. the work I've actually done.
I don't agree here. Perhaps "not everything should be broadcast" might be better?
I would posit that the new gatekeepers are algorithms. For example, Google search algorithms, Youtube recommendations, Facebook news feed Edgerank, etc.
There's a distinction between self promotion and genuine honest expression of who we are, what we presently think is true.
I feel like there is something fundamentally human when people try to do that with each other.
As someone who has actually lived in a hut, I would like you to know that living in huts should not be used as a derogatory example. In fact hut living was the best time of my life and I long to replicate the simplicity and freedom it afforded.
I think that's demonstrably far too broad of a brush. Yes, this is a very common motivator, but it's hardly universal.
Surprisingly the error code drew a ton of traffic compared to anything interesting I could have possibly thought about writing.
Keeping everything on a site that I am in control of eliminates the issues of uncertainty.
(I do answer direct questions on Stack Overflow and such, I just don't keep my accumulated works or investigative notes on third party sites.)
I also like to write about ideas I strung together that I sourced from books, podcasts, and other posts. I followed the same path as OP in regards to blogging in early 2000's then kinds letting my site languish. I have been trying to write a bit more over the last year.
I have found that checking out the analytics on the blog from time to time also helps me guage what topics to write about.
This is the main reason that I keep a personal website.
Who would learn more? The one who searches for answer or the one who answers questions?