Writing is my primary tool. I keep a blog... and journals. I keep a journal for my reading: what I've read, what I thought about it, choice things I'd like to recall. I keep a journal of my mathematical reading, thoughts, and work. Programming too!
Keeping your writing in a blog and sharing it with others puts a bit of pressure on you to keep a public persona but it's worth doing, as the author points out, to keep one honest. It has taken a while for me to learn this as evidenced on my blog but I have taken it more to heart in recent years.
Be careful writing with an authoritative voice if you yourself have not researched the topic deep enough to convincingly defend your findings! It's much easier for your audience to accept your work if they know you're in the process of discovery when they find an error or omission. It makes you more credible as well.
The more you know, the more you realize how little you know.
This is why I dislike the down voting capability on sites. There's an impulse the person dislikes what they read or from how they interpreted it, and then they are able to quell that feeling with a single action vs. having to put the effort into thinking and articulating into words what they're feeling, why they are feeling it, and allow it to be publicly scrutinized - hopefully with respectful responses. This allows not only scrutiny and discourse to occur, however it also offers an opportunity for OP to potentially learn something - whether that their language wasn't articulated clearly enough and so interpreted how they didn't expect or other.
People knee-jerk upvote just as much as they knee-jerk downvote and eliminating one half of the knee-jerks has nasty side effects.
Some people say it gets unlocked after 500 karma, others say they can do it before then which makes me think a mod can activate it for an account.
It was ironic and surprising to see all these high karma accounts discuss a theoretical forum where users can’t downvote without discussing HN’s existing rules.
Frequently downvoted reasons could be added to a blacklist that requires additional elucidation before being able to submit the downvote.
This has been an interesting thought experiment. I'd expect the results might besimilar to Robot9000:
Don't remember how well it worked.
That HN hides the votes of each post is useful because you only wind-up with a vague guess as to how other posts are received.
I suspect that not offering down votes would not make people more likely to comment. I will vote and then comment to reinforce my vote.
• "You write to find out what you believe… When I write, things occur to me. It's a way of thinking. But you can perform your thinking instead of just thinking it." — https://web.archive.org/web/20161201164608/http://www.thepar... / https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/06/09/adam-phillips-paul-...
• "To think, you have to write. If you're thinking without writing, you only think you're thinking. […]
Everyone thinks they think. If you don't write down your thoughts, you are fooling yourself." — Leslie Lamport (http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014/3-642 , 1:30 & 45:34)
• "Turing machines are incredibly more powerful than Finite Automata.
Yet the only difference between a FA and a TM is that
the TM, unlike the FA, has paper and pencil.
Think about it.
It tells you something about the power of writing." — Manuel Blum (https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mblum/research/pdf/research02.txt)
Great quote, it's actually by Bob Mugele (see earlier cite http://commonplacebook.com/jokes/funny-lists/one-liners-from... ) his website is http://www.junglebob.net/cv.html I exchanged email with him and he confirmed he coined it in the mid-90's
It is difficult to know what you should know when you have a lot to learn and are in an intelligence-signaling environment. A side effect of having written detailed technical notes is that I calibrate my confidence on a topic. If I now understand something, I am sure of it and can explain myself clearly. If I don’t understand something, I have a sense of why it is difficult to understand or what prerequisite knowledge I am missing.
I like this passage in particular, and I divine a second meaning between the lines, and that is: developing understanding, and then putting it out for the world to see, requires bravery. The more you do it, the bolder you become. It gives you some skin in the game. You can't just deceive yourself that you know something. And, if you're doing fundamental research (like the author), you gotta be brave - because there's a good chance you could be wrong. Many people are very afraid of being wrong.
As an aside: I still get nervous every time I publish a post on my own blog.
I also plan to dig out my highest-rated HN comments and turn them into blog posts or even an ebook some day. There's probably 10-100k words I've written here already.
Ha! I'm just starting to grasp that - been going through chapter 8 of Art of Electronics, 3rd Ed. Getting a hard and fast education on noise. Shot noise is fascinating. I still don't have a great mental model to compare it to. The closes I've come is dripping water vs a continuous stream of water.
I also plan to dig out my highest-rated HN comments and turn them into blog posts or even an ebook some day.
I had this same notion the other day. It's neat how an internet post can inspire such clarity of thought.
Also, he has what I found useful and inspiring advice about writing/putting stuff online, e.g.
"Make your website be your filing cabinet. If you have little projects underway, put them on your website while working on them. Reject the paper-publishing traditions of polishing an article to perfection before publication. DO NOT ELEVATE IMAGE OVER CONTENT. (Perhaps even keep yourself honest by cultivating a deep revulsion for "image.") Instead, let all your flaws hang out, and type things directly into your site in rough draft form (label them UNDER CONSTRUCTION if you really must).
Expunge the fear of embarassment from your life, and instead practice making foolish mistakes in front of thousands of strangers. Stop using your PC to store files, instead use your website as your main storage. Let people poke through your filing cabinet. It will contain far more than a perfectly polished website does."
You could write an entire book on this.
Thanks for the great read and for helping to kick off my software engineering career!
On a different note: does anyone happen to know if that's a standard Wordpress theme? I've been looking to find a simple theme and this (or something similarly minimalist and text-focused) would be perfect for my needs.
http://gregorygundersen.com/blog/2020/01/12/why-research-blo... has a HTTP header last updated on 01/13/2020 04:34:31.
http://gregorygundersen.com/blog/2019/12/23/random-fourier-f... is 01/13/2020 04:34:30, or 1 second earlier.
Also the source code has a link to http://gregorygundersen.com/css/markdown.css which 404's.
Not sure if it was this comment that prompted it, but I was looking for the same and noticed he pushed an empty repo about an hour ago on Github — https://github.com/gwgundersen/blog-theme
I still write the posts, they just live on a hard drive in my basement, because there's still value in writing. I just wish I could give back to the community and/or benefit from people auditing what I'm doing wrong.
I could of course go to a startup or something, but I have a wife in school and a mortgage to pay. I don't really mind upheaving my life to take a bit of a risk on a startup, but I think it might be a bit selfish if there's a risk of it causing problems for other people.
Alternatively you could try to convince your employer to add an exception to the non-compete. It's not unthinkable that they would allow it, if it's just for blogging.
That said, you're not wrong; I probably could harass someone to be allowed to blog, but after being declined twice from contributing to open source (both taking around 4-5 hours of talking to legal teams and managers), I'm just a bit burnt out from the experiences.
I should probably find another job once a bit more stock vests.
If you don’t see that what you are working on is almost obvious, then you are not ready to work on that yet.
reminds me of
Live in the future, then build what's missing
The way I see it, both are saying that if you want to be creative, then you can't just think, study, or hope for inspiration. You have to immerse yourself and your mind in a different environment, in a different frame, and then new problems and solutions will be in plain view.
Another way to say it is that half of the problem is choosing the problem, or formulating the problem. But if you start from the same situation or frame, then you're likely to come up with the same problems as everyone else.
In general, deliberate practice is about how you practice (e.g. focused on most useful things; w/ quick expert feedback), rather than how often.
Interestingly, The GP mentioned Ben Franklin and Franklin did use deliberate practice to improve his writing:
While I'm no way near mathematically capable (yet) of understanding the jargon the author uses later on in the post (e.g. "randomized singular value decomposition"), I'm glad he puts links to at least show he's not bluffing.
One quote that stood out to me was this one
> I appreciate that most of my writing is me, like an ant, simply following someone else’s trail.
I think you could apply that to most things in programming/computer science too
"Under pressure, my mind, like a cart on a well-worn path, finds the same old ruts. Once again, writing breaks this cycle because it requires more active participation."
Being in medicine, I sat on a paper for over a month because I knew that on the last week I would be able to just jump-start writing in the same way I have done so for the last few years. It is embarrassing to think that in any realm of science there is this autonomic system that just takes over when the deadline draws near and poorly thought and researched concepts full of jargon fill the pages.
Maybe I was trying to use it for the wrong things?
It seems like a good way of creating better understanding for yourself, a less good way of building a community. That seems to be best done off-line.
The answer is: "no."
I have two hangups, one makes blogging hard, and one makes keeping an organized notebook hard. If anyone has some thoughts/philosophy about it, I'm very much interested.
The first hangup for blogging is that I find it very difficult to choose a 'technical background cutoff'. I very much like ELI5 attitudes but the issue (that everyone has to deal with) is choosing which topics not to explore. It's difficult not to wander off on tangent "pre-req" topics not only because I want clear explanations, but also because of my second hangup. I tend to "overthink" things and when you question deeply enough, you always wind up at something too difficult to figure out in a day/week/month. Repeating that 10x times per 'blog post' just doesn't work.
One possible work around that I've gleaned from this discussion is to have blog posts presented as WIPs, and work on them progressively almost like a notebook.
If anyone else has some thoughts on how I might handle these things, I'd very much appreciate it.
1. The author must be young. That's a really small font.
2. The same could be said for teaching a class. No matter the class, even a basic undergrad class, I always try to work a few new research results (not necessarily my own) into the lectures. Edit: I was specifically referring to "Learning with intention" in this part of my comment.
What kind of software / tools /styles are behind this blog in the technical sense? I see mathjax, probably some static site generator(?), what else are you using?
- Write in Markdown using your favorite editor (I like Typora; StackEdit is also great)
- Render them in-browser with Docsify (so that you don't even need to worry about setting up a separate build step)
- Deploy to GitHub pages or GitLab pages for free
FWIW I wrote my own scripts to generate static HTML over 3 years, but people were reading it from the first day. So it was just gradually improved over time, Unix style. (It even works on mobile now, after I learned how to do that in the last week :) )
Now, I plan on just having a blog to myself, to post what I've been reading, with some highlights/notes, and for that, a free wordpress.com is way better than anything else, as it's very easy to add different types of media/embed content without a worry, and to use their android app to write on the go if I want.
So really, whatever you use, first decide on your ideal workflow, and then find the solutions :)
hearing 'you're wrong' publicly from a world-class expert on my topic is the fastest way to advance my knowledge on a topic -- it's basically free college