“Book, essay, remark”

I haven’t posted anything to this blog for a while. Apparently I’m not alone. Not blogging is the new blogging: so says Wired. My Scheme-mate Chuck seems to have thrown off his blog as a matter of self-preservation. At the same time, we’ve both been active on Twitter. It is a lot easier to fire off a pithy comment on Twitter than log into WordPress and compose something anyone can read. But Twitter can’t replace blogging. And just because blog posts are harder to write and the standard for their quality has gone up–that’s no excuse to give up.

Long-time blogger Tim Bray recently put up a post called On Blogging in 2008 about his idea that blogging is best for medium-length thought-expressions: shorter than a book, but more substantive than a simple remark. I think this is an excellent formulation. Few of us write books (and even fewer write more than one), so the essay is a vitally important vehicle for communicating and collaborating. It’s also a worthwhile exercise even if no one else reads it.

When I was last working full time, I sort-of managed projects with cranky developers. You were guaranteed to anger a developer by asking for a description of their progress. “I don’t have time to talk about it.” I’ve been the developer in this scenario too, and it does kind of hurt to have to stop working with the machine and try to put your problems into English. It seems like lost effort. But funny enough, I think it hurts because it’s work. And it’s fruitful work too. Not only do you communicate with another person who may be able to help you, but putting your thoughts into words kind of builds up your thoughts too. Often enough I find the answer to a question or find a pattern in a problem just by trying to describe what I’m doing.

So blogging is good. And I need to get back into it. I’m looking for freelance work again, and no one should take on a freelancer who doesn’t blog, or otherwise contribute, for anything more complicated than a web page. Also, I have some things to share. I’ve been doing some really interesting things with Javascript. I’m getting much more adept with Rails and RSpec. And it’s looking like we’re going to have a Clojure study group here in the DC area this winter. So let’s keep up the conversations.

I’m still going to keep twittering, though. It’s just too gratifying to imagine I’m a brilliant wit.