Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On blog writing (and happy 1.5'ish year anniversary!)

I've been writing on this blog for about a year and a half. As with any milestone (ok, so I missed the anniversary of the first post by six months), this fact has put me in a reflective mood and I'm eager to analyze what I've learned from this endeavor.

My original intent for starting the blog was to have a place to jot down my ideas and sort them according to some logical framework. My mind was a discombobulated mess of tasks I had to do, dates I had to keep, and theories that intermingled to the extent that I had difficulties keeping them straight. Of course, I could always jot down notes in a notebook or journal (and I do), but I found that my handwriting simply couldn't keep up with the rate at which my thoughts crystallized into a pattern in my mind. Thus, I started the blog, but honestly did not care whether others read it.

My first post sums up this intent very well. (Having written it so long ago, it actually seems as if someone else wrote it.) So has the blog succeeded in this regard? I think so. I've certainly managed to find a broad range of topics on which to flesh out my thoughts, and my thinking is much more clear than when I started.

The most amazing thing I've found from writing, especially through this medium, is that my intent for a post almost always changes as I write it, leading me to discover something in the process. For example, I first started this post as a discussion on writing techniques, inspired by this article. I suspect that the reason for this is that the public nature of a blog impresses upon me the need to be logical. I dare not commit a logical fallacy in front of the entire digital world, especially since I purport to be a "scientist." So, as I place my thoughts into writing, I'm better able to catch errors in my thinking, fix them, and as a result find new conclusions and ideas.

For this reason I've recently come to appreciate the value of an audience. Sure, my readership is next to nil, but building one takes work that I simply have not put in. That's changing now. Through the magic of Google, I've discovered ways to attract any sort of attention possible popularize my blog, including If more people are reading what I write, I'll probably pay closer attention to it.

And what of the future? Do I have any more hopes for my writing? Well, trying to keep a regular post schedule has been challenging, so I hope that I can maintain it. I also hope that, if enough people do start reading this blog, that I can gain a lot from comments. I realize my viewpoint is very particular in a large field. My biases likely keep me from conclusions that are just as valid but I otherwise discount or miss entirely.

This was actually a rather easy and fun post to write. If you do enjoy this blog, feel free to share it with your friends who might find it interesting. I'd appreciate it ;)

On a side note: thank you Google for changing the layout of the editing screen on Blogger. The newer, more professional look means I don't have to Alt-Tab to Matlab when my advisor enters my office unexpectedly.