Writing about doing

One of the aims of my writing here is to reflect on the work, both the process and the substance. While I certainly appreciate all of the work by those who just write about the tools and workflows, I value even more those who do work and bring insight from the real worlds of academics, science and programming to the discussion. I could cite a long list of old-school bloggers with day jobs who write online to contribute to the community without seeking to make it a full time occupation. I know I’ve mentioned Cal Newport in this regard, but includes podcasters like Sean Carrol as well. If Sean gave up being a theoretical physicist for just writing and podcasting, I think his contribution would be diminished.

All by way of mentioning that David Sparks, MacSparky is no longer practicing law. I can’t fault him for devoting more time to what he loves, his role as writer and practicing lawyer brought a level of real world domain expertise to his online output. Now I fear the work becomes meta-work, talking about how to talk about the tools that others use for work. I’ve seen this in the photography world. There’s a difference in the value that the working photographer brings to online presence compared to the hobbyist photographers who make a living writing about the process and tools of photography. I wouldn’t go so far as calling it navel gazing, but has that self-referential quality to it as the work serves no outside purpose beyond being online content.

My advice is always to do the work. Then use writing about the work as a way to improve the work.