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This is written by Abhijit Nadgouda
I never considered writing a necessity. Understandably, I was not a big fan of documentation. It required me to do a lot of things that I was not interested in, like improving my language vocabulary and grammar, and getting it proofed by the ones with an upper hand. I was too busy with programming languages to worry about such things, talking to the machines was more interesting than talking to people.
Things slowly changed with my work. I was suddenly supposed to do many more things, and my talks with people were more important than machines. I still hated writing down stuff. The first started jotting down things when I started forgetting things and missing appointments. And this helped me.
I kept wondering how come just putting things on paper helped me. What did it do? When it dawned upon me that, writing did what I was missing a lot of times – thinking. This is something I could relate to when I read Tim Denton’s quote.
You don’t know what you think until you have to write.
Writing down things on paper was more than just recording words, it was about thinking. The thinking helped me plan, it helped me prepare five minutes before a meeting, it helped me look at the bigger picture. It appealed to me because I had experienced this earlier, designing did this same thing to us programmers. And this made me more efficient and productive.I discovered the joy of writing, even for my personal use. I wanted to make writing as a regular event so that I could explicitly sit down and think. I started writing down my thoughts, mostly on software development. I still hated the entire formality though, and the thought of publishing made me as scared as a baby preparing to participate in the Olympics. Imagine my joy when I discovered blogging. It was quite unexpected, in fact I had a misconception and a negative opinion about blogging at this time. I hit upon WordPress while building an article management system for a friend, which introduced me to the real blogging.
It was exactly what I was looking for, I could write without any restrictions. Being able to write such freely felt like driving on an interstate after driving on a desert road. There was more importance to my thoughts than to the language. No one could tear it apart because they did not like it. I could write what I wanted and the way I wanted it. The only restriction was to stay honest. Even if no one monitors you, it reflects out of your writings.
I started writing regularly on my blog. I made some mistakes, but unlike the professional world, they were pardoned and I was encouraged to write more. Blogging is one exercise where you can explicitly realise that you learn something everytime you make a mistake. I liked that blogging made me think. Blogging empowered me to express myself, without any adulteration or corruption. However, blogging did many more things for me.
I started reading a lot more, reading people more than blogs. I started looking for that person behind the article, usually written in the small font. As I read more I could build a relationship with that person. It was like peeking inside the author’s mind. I have able to connect and exchange thoughts with so many people, who probably are unreachable for me in the physical world. In a way, this has revolutionalized the way I read. It is no longer just one article that I read, I also read conversations on it. Every single happening in the world had a reaction in the blogosphere, and sometimes the blogosphere has an impact on that event.
I no longer read just books, I read what others think about the book, I discuss it with them and I learn more. I was pleasantly surprised to find that authors of a lot of books I read were blogging. And this included the greats of software development. Their blogs were probably more valuable than those books because they reflected their thinking and was dynamic with time. I follow blogs of books, I follow blogs of authors and I follow blogs of readers. I have started to discover much better books to read through this.
More reading meant I got more information. I realised that I was better updated than earlier. I tried to make sure that I knew about what was happening inside the industry. It made me realise that industry news does not come from press releases, it comes from individuals. Reading these individuals is important because it made me someone inside the industry, which helped me in taking well-informed decisions.
As I changed jobs I realised that my blogging could easily be irrelevant to them. Blogging is my own, personal, not owned by anyone else. This was the biggest advantage to me. I could do out of job thinking. It is quite natural to think about your field from your job’s perspective, and this creates limitations. As I kept blogging about software development I understood it more from a higher platform, and it did not change with every job or project I changed. I could keep building on it, which today has turned into a treasure for me.
The technology involved in blogging helped me converse with other people. The comments, the pingbacks, the trackbacks all helped. The fact that I could just press one button and open up to anyone and everyone on the Web made it so easy. This was not possible in the physical world, we are always limited by various boundaries, which very easily disappeared on the Web. When I started working from home, blogging provided me some of the war rooms and the brainstorming sessions.
Of course, blogging also has its own anxious moments. I got too obsessed with statistics earlier, but eventually realised the only thing I wanted to gain out of blogging was expressing myself; everything else was secondary, including commercialising it. This also consumed a lot of my time, and initially it was not easy to balance. Eventually I could find solutions using technologies like feeds. I think blogging will always take one with surprise, it has so much potential hidden that it can be too much to digest at the first instance. But eventually it only enriches you.
People are putting them to various uses – from social causes to businesses to alarm the world of incidents which otherwise would have been hidden under rubble of the mainstream media. Blogging has had such an impact and quite regularly there is some hate-mail from someone in the mainstream media. This, in spite, of the fact that both are quite different and are not in competition. But blogging has been more effective in bringing out news of individuals, and news by individuals.
There is another benefit of blogging, which makes me smile when someone googles for my name. My blog is my identity on the Web. I am truly on the Web, I am discoverable and I am reachable. This has far reaching impacts on my life in the physical world. Not only does it increase my equity, but it also makes me smile when I get an email from an old friend saying “you are all over the web”. My friends have found it easier to find me because of my blog.
Blogging makes methink, it helps me express myself, it helps me learn, it helps me connect with people, it helps me stay informed. I try to write regularly on my blog, at least once a day. I will suggest you to give it a try if you have already not picked it up, it can turn out to be an extremely valuable asset for you.