Perks and difficulties of tech blogging

Having your own blog is a very interesting experiment. Like any other project it will teach you something. Your writing skills will improve (that’s an assumption but it’s difficult not to improve if you do it regularly). If you’re not writing in your native language, you’ll improve in the language you do write in. You’ll notice holes in your understanding of the subject you’re describing. You’ll draw attention of others to your work and, hopefully, you’ll help others. There is certainly more, good reasons to have a blog.

You may be maintaining your own blog or read other tech focused blogs, either way you might have noticed the pitfall of those type of blogs. What we’re describing changes very, very quickly. So often, looking for an answer to a software related question, brings us to a webpage with outdated information.

There is a certain type of content that doesn’t hold up well. It’s mostly how to or tutorial type content. My latest post about TinyCC compiler is dangerously close to that category. The only reason why it might hold up a while longer than some other content is the fact that the technology it describes is old. It has been around for a long time and it will stay with us for a while longer. It will become a historical artifact, maybe just a bit later.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s a big, global issue. Yes, the internet content gets outdated… that’s the nature of technology. It does impact what I want to cover though.

My website grows. I try to write a blog post at least once a month. There is no big goal. It’s a learning experience that I grew to like very much. What I don’t want is to have most of the content be noise. Imagine writing about SCons which, well… didn’t age well (feel free to prove me wrong). The outdated posts might be worse than noise. It might be misinformation. Spending 15 minutes, following tutorial, only to fail at some point because the instructions are outdated sucks.

At the same time those types of posts are easiest to write. I don’t know much about something, I do it, I learn things on the way and I document the process. If done right, it provides more value than just leading your reader to the solution. It can explain why things are how they are but that’s substantially harder.

I’d like to focus more on in depth analysis and opinion pieces. The first one distinguishes itself by diving deep into a specific topic. That’s very time consuming. Opinion pieces do that by bringing one’s unique perspective. The problem with those is that the perspective should be insightful. Insight comes with experience. In part, that’s why blogging is difficult - who am I to tell you what’s what?. Ahhh the ever present impostor syndrome.

I might get a chance to teach you something or entertain you for a while. I don’t want to waste it. Your time is precious.

If you’re interested in what a blog could/should be I’d recommend this article about treating your website like a digital garden by Joel Hooks. It’s an interesting concept albeit difficult. Gardens require a lot of maintenance.