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Meta-Blog Thoughts, 2017 Edition

Two years removed from being an employee at Square, I made a trip back to the offices to greet familiar faces and check out the updated decor. One of them offhandedly mentioned that I still kept my blog up, despite having had another kid, plus 2 jobs, since my employment there. Why bother continuing to write, when it is not making money nor building an audience?

Since I decided to start, I’ve rationalized the time and effort spent here with a multitude of reasons. Initially, my motivation was to build reputation, which I had hoped to leverage later when I eventually start my own consultancy business. Later on, blogging was a way to practice written communication, an important skill regardless of where I’d end up as a software engineer1. I’ve started writing down essentially mini-book reviews in the interim, so I can remember what I’ve read and reference a blog post in giving out reading recommendations.

Which brings us to 2017. As an activity, blogging has just completed another popularity cycle: starting from relative obscurity, gaining mass-adoption, and then over-saturating and reverting back to a niche medium2. The proliferation of video, the impressive reach of social networks and viral content, and the increased velocity of fame—and eventual burnout—all suggest that keeping a lengthy, text-based, enduring piece of web property is futile.

My best contrarian explanation is that blogging, or just writing on the internet, is a fundamental building block of a connected world. It’s unlikely to have widespread impact or reach, but persistent writing does have an effect, which resurfaces once every couple of months as I meet folks that have wandered here. I’ve had colleagues appreciate the writing, interviewees do a bunch of “homework” before their interviews as an off-the-beaten-path way to establish rapport3, and friends who are pleasantly surprised when I post something relating common interests.

It sounds stupidly obvious when laid bare to its fundamental roots, but writing is ultimately an expression of individual perspective, and (personal) blogging is just its public presentation. Espousing my own takes on events, software engineering truths, and musings on video games and books has become a habit 6 years in the making4, and now I find it weird if I don’t take some time during the week to prep for a blog post or record something down for thoughts down the line. The act of putting words down—even on a virtual page—is a powerful tool for thinking, and I’ve grown fond of the voice I’ve consciously tried to develop all this time.

So really, blogging has established itself no longer just as a means to an end, but as a part of my own identity. And if you’re reading this and thinking about whether to establish your own voice, I can provide no grander endorsement.

  1. And it’s an area that’s useful in a wide variety of contexts outside of work.

  2. First cycle was with dotcom and the creation of the group-blogging model, second cycle is via the Svbtle/Medium movement.

  3. Note: faking interest in someone’s hobby doesn’t really work.

  4. Related is the less rational explanation of sunk costs; I’ve spent way too much time on this not to keep the streak going.

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