I’ve been journalling since 1998, long before “blogging” became part of the common parlance. I moved my thinking online around 2001 more out of the sake of convenience (always a faster typer than writer), and have kept a log of my personal life since then, with definite slow-down post-college. I attribute that to being very concerned about how I appeared such a context now that I had a professional identity – something I’m still negotiating.
The idea of doing a tech blog, then, came recently – less than a year ago at a devchix meetup. An great idea, especially because I could see the appeal in a more conventional topical blog (or, better put, as the convention has emerged) to stand separately from my personal ups and downs. Anybody who knows me reasonably well knows that when I get comfortable, I have a lot to say, and I know I’m a strong written communicator. Until recently, however, reticence won over, for a handful of relatively convincing reasons:
- As mentioned, I’ve felt very timid about expressing myself because I now have a professional identity, and I have a tendency to say more than I should. Until I figured out where the line stood on certain things, I didn’t know whether or not I’d be crossing it. I started out my career at a large, newsworthy company, so I was especially paranoid about backlash and possible legal implications.
- Frequently throughout the last two and a half years (the length of my career thus far), I have felt a deep unhappiness about my jobs, my career choice, and the adjustment to adult life in general. Blogging in my personal space led to excessive rumination, the type of content I hated.
- I know I’m no all-star when it comes to programming. I am only three years out of college, after all. It has been hard to overcome the sense that “Someone else can do this better than me”.
- My strongest opinions in terms of tech are all in the negative – stuff like the state of diversity in the industry, usability issues on both the developer and end-user level, misplaced priorities, etc. I like people who tell it like it is, but I don’t like Negative Nellies, and I especially didn’t want to do something akin to the current Republican congress – making ample objections without providing any constructive counter-approaches (zing on the political reference!)
- I am terrified of mean commenters. Or obnoxious commenters who want to reply to my post about some naive technical concept with some addendum about minute details I don’t care about. In general, not writing has insulated me from the portion of the coding community / industry that I deeply dislike.
- The stuff I want to write about is of a different nature than what I see in most tech blogs (blogs by tech professionals of a technical level). There is the irrational fear of being exposed as an outsider due to my inability to meld with the informal structure of tech blogging.
That said, I’ve had a change of heart, and so to that list comes a variety of retorts about why I’m doing this (and this list is also why I’m writing this entry: I want to refer back to this as a grounding point in the future, and if I ever get a dedicated reader or two, they have a nice, whole starting point to go from).
So, here’s why I’m going against all those doubts and plunging in head-first:
- I’ve been working for nearly three years now, so I have a much better sense of how to express my professional identity properly. I’m living in a city full of innovative developers who let their online presence blend the personal and the professional. I can talk about meta-issues with work, programming, etc. without getting into specifics that would have damned me in the past. In other words, experience has given me the confidence that, for the most part (some mistakes are inevitable), I can do this right.
- I’m comfortable (even happy!) in my job now, which means I’m actually interested in programming both in and outside of work for the first time since I graduated college. This means that the stuff I want to write about is nice and varied, and I don’t have to worry about every entry sounding like a broken record.
- I’ve found countless solutions to problems I’ve thanks to a Google search leading me to someone’s blog post about how they solved the same problem. Reporting my solution to a particular problem may just be repetition, but it may also turn into the perfect resource for someone else. It would be cool if that happened – and if not, it’s time for me to put my more interesting observations somewhere other than a disorganized notebook. So if anybody can use this blog as a technical reference, it’ll be me, and ultimately that’s always why I’ve journaled – for me.
- Thanks to some immersion in the local tech community, especially Code N Spode meetings, has made me a lot more comfortable with my self-expression. Code N Splode is about encouraging women in all stages of their tech careers to share what they know, and they don’t discount anything because it’s too elementary or out of place. Even though I’m still yet to present at a Code N Splode meeting, the group has made me more comfortable with the value of my own unique message.
- And about my unique message – I do still feel like an outsider, most of the time. But I’m sure there are other programmers who feel the same. And perhaps it is about time that there’s a tech blog that doesn’t quite follow the same content format as the others. Finding a sense of belonging in this community is a huge component of overall satisfaction with this career choice, and if there are people who are like me who can find some connection here, we both benefit. I get the message that these more confident women in tech – like those at Code N Splode – are sending – that the change in community diversity starts with the more diverse members getting their standing legs, even if they aren’t as confident as they’d like going into things. Summary: I am idealistically hoping that my addition to the conversation has a net gain for women in the tech community.
- I’m still afraid of mean and obnoxious commenters, but I’m going to pretend they just don’t exist until I need to deal with them.
So, anyhow. Now that I feel like there’s a real sense to this beast – both practical and sociological purpose – I’m ready to get going. Onward up!