Tag Archives: on-blogging

On Blogging: ‘I learn by writing’

Steve O’Grady just posted a link to a story at IBM’s developerWorks site (dW): building tools to support software development teams. The dW article is by Bill Higgins. Bill works for IBM’s Rational division, and says in part:


This reminded me of some something interesting that Grady Booch once said. I asked him how he went about acquiring new knowledge, to which he responded “I learn by writing”. This seemed paradoxical, since I always considered writing a way to inform others rather than a way to inform yourself. But Grady made the point that writing forces you to crystalize your understanding of the topic. This crystalization occurs for two reasons:

  1. you must perform research to ensure accuracy and depth
  2. the process of writing forces you to serialize fuzzy thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs.

So, if there’s some topic that you want to understand better, consider writing an article on it.


Steve picked the tag: “I asked him how he went about acquiring new knowledge, to which he responded ‘I learn by writing’.” – same here, big time.

As you may know, my daughter Jen just graduated from Yale, one of the great institutions in the world. I cannot say enough good things about it. I think we both fell in love with it during our first visit back in October of her junior year in high school. It was clear to me from the start that it emphasized direct teaching by all the faculty to the undergraduates above all other things. We visited other schools tool, some quite well known, but I never left any of the others believing their faculty and administration had the same priority.

During Jen’s first few years at Yale I was still at Research, and I often stopped by to chat with a colleague, Dave Grove. He’s a Yale graduate. I once asked him what his Yale education meant to him. He said,

Yale taught me how to write.

What more can anyone ask of a university? Tom Friedman has asked and answered that one: one of his daughters is a Yale student.

That’s one reason to blog. It forces you to write.

My wife is a reading teacher. She put up a sign in her home workspace a few years ago. I believe it’s a quote from Eudora Welty. I may have the words wrong (and I know Jen will correct me if I did, but as I recall, it says,

I write what I say so I can read it to learn what I think.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0
.

On Blogging: Summary of recent comments from our readers

I ran a story on the 10th anniversary of IBM’s alphaworks (aW). It was prompted by a post on Steve O’Grady’s blog, a post I read late at night on the day before the event. So I tried to put something togerher in less than an hour.

There were comments by Steve, his colleague James Governor, and Peter Coffee, a columnist — though that word doesn’t do him full justice — mentioned in the post. I hadn’t had time to properly quote his article as I had recently moved offices and hadn’t yet unpacked. It was good to hear from Peter, and the offer I made still stands: the offer was that I would arrange a visit to Research if he were in the area. I’m now in Somers but I still have friends at Research. And come to think of it, I’d be happy to meet with anyone in the area with an interest in the volunteers project.

Steve later wrote a post about the event. It had several keen insights. I’ll be writing about it shortly.

I made a few posts on TWITs, and got responses from Ken Coar. I assume everyone knows about Ken; if they don’t write a comment and I’ll tell you more about that “Rodent of Unusual Size.” By the way, that handle reveals the name of one of — if not THE — his favorite movies.

Chris Abbey has been a pal since the Jikes days. He worked for a time at developerWorks after Philippe and I stopped working on, then did much work on his own time, only stopping that role earlier this year. I’m officially the project admin now, though the project has remained dormant since Chris left. Chris also recruited Rob Eggers, someone you’ll probably be hearing about soon.

Chris and Ken offered to set up a site for the TWIT stuff. I almost got a URL early this morning, but there is no rush today. Our readership is still small, though it’s gone up to 70-80 reads/day.

We add new readers and project members to the blogroll. This week’s additons at Ken,Steve, and James. Chris gave the URL of our new project, and thanks for the offer, but I’ll put off adding that for a bit.

Steve asked about a study back in 2004. It was about commoditization (c13n). I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about this back then. Clayton’s work is especially insightful. But as it happens, c13n is the least of worries in the non-profit and gov’t space. How can s/w be a commidty if none exists?

Thanks for your comments, dave.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

Hopes dashed by the WordPress Dashboard

My previous Post #95, “The Open Source is a Dumpster Myth,” attracted a modicum of attention. I first made it as a
comment about an article or comment at one Linux site, and mentioned my blog in that posting. Soon thereafter the post
was noticed, in the form of a short summary posted on another, much more well-known site, NewsForge, as one of their
news feeds: http://newsvac.newsforge.com/newsvac/06/03/20/1616250.shtml .

This was the first-ever mention of one of my posts in a public forum, and I was keen to see the response. I had high
hopes.

As you know I’m using WordPress (WP) to write this blog, and as an author when I log into WP I am given several options:
New Post: write a new post;

My Account: modify my account profile;

My Dashboard, which includes among its features reports on blog activity. As I recall there was a definite spurt of activity that soon — very soon — dropped off.

I just took a look at the blog stats as of today, several months after that post (I’ll discuss the reasons for the
hiatus in my blogging in a future post). The status includes a display of the activity over the last 30 days, along with
the number of total views to date, and the number of views of the Best Day Ever. Here are the current results as of
today, 17 September 2006:

Total Views, 407; Best Day Ever, 140; and the graph for the last 30 days shows an average of no views of most days,
with two views on two of those 30 days.

What is notable is that over one third of the reads of my blog to date were on just one day, soon after posting #95.

I had another brief flurry of attention. I’ll talk about that in the next post, and then on to describe some of the lessons about blogging I have learned so far.

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