Why Do I Blog?

March 17, 2014

I've been blogging for nearly 10 years now. This version of the blog has been live for 8; the first version's posts were never brought forward.

But why write so many posts on programming and the software industry? I guess I care about what I do and even though there are no comments any more, I like talking with people about what I love to do. A lot of posts only get a few hundred readers but every once in a while something hits the sweet spot and tens of thousands of people all over the world read them and comment (elsewhere). I think that's the cool thing, finding something that connects other programmers to each other and gets them thinking.

I never promote my own posts anywhere, I figure if it's good enough to share someone will do it for me. So every day 200 people wander in and occasionally 50,000 people wander in. Sometimes I write something I think is good and the world goes meh, and then something I just threw together goes nuts. Some posts hit right away and some take days or weeks to suddenly blow up.

All of the popular posts on the right have 30,000+ readers although I have more than will fit now. Most of the posts in general are more essays on programming. I haven't written too many specific posts on actual programming, for whatever reason my style is more contemplative. Sometimes I think about what I want to write during my interminable drive to work and sometimes I just react to something I saw and it's all pouring out.

Three of the top four posts were spur of the moment reactions to something I read; maybe there is something to reactive writing.

I've enjoyed interesting email exchanges with people but do miss having actually commentary on the blog. It does make performance so much better as I've never had issues with being at the top of Reddit or Hacker News. When I had comments there were way too many manual spam comments to keep up. I've looked into comment services like Disqus but they wouldn't stop the kind of spam I got clobbered by.

None of the versions of the blog have ever used a blogging platform as I've always used it as a means to try out new languages and ideas. The first few were in Java, then the current version was written in PHP, and I'm about to write a new one in node.js and redis.

I've had 500,000 visitors since January 1 of 2012 which is pretty humbling. Some of my posts have clearly touched nerves in people. Occasionally I've written something dumb (like my early rant on PHP) but for the most part people aren't complaining too much. Still this world of programming is so vast there is an ocean of things to talk about and people seem to like reading it.

I'm glad I didn't write a blog in my first two decades of being a programmer (of course there were no blogs when I started in 1981) as after so long I now have a lot of experience and stories to fall back on. As a young programmer in those early days it wasn't easy to learn much outside of what you were doing, no internet, no email, no web, no blogs, no Twitter, just libraries and magazines and the like. It's hard to believe I learned anything at all. Today there is knowledge everywhere. By writing more essays and commentary my niche is a little unique and I love writing this style of post.

There are so many things I'd like to write about I doubt I will ever run out of ideas. One thing I make a hard rule is to never mention who I actually work for and generally not mention them later either; it's just better to keep it a little mysterious. Also keeps the nasty lawyers at bay. Today everything you write lives forever, you never want to burn a bridge today that you might need to drive on later!

I doubt too many people really care why I blog but I thought I'd tell it anyway. Blogging for a decade is hard but worth it. In the early days hardly anyone read my posts but I wrote them anyway as I figured if I ever said something interesting people might come back. So today I never worry whether a post is read or not, if it's good it will gain readers, if it's not then I've lost nothing but a little time.

In the early days I experimented with ads but gave up; programmers don't click on anything! So why bug them, it's not a profit center, and as a programmer I don't like them either.

So thanks to any of you that read my stuff regularly and thanks to anyone who comes by and visits.