Josh Davis

I'm currently an Engineer working at Amazon and am living in Seattle.

I like to learn, pet kittens, and wear fluffy socks.

I never save anything for the swim back.

11 May 2013

The Beginning of a Beautiful Blogship

I have been a fan of Nathan Marz ever since I came across his blog post on his experience working at a startup. I was pretty young at the time (my first summer in 2010 after starting university) and was pretty influenced by what he said. Just this past month I saw a new post by him on HackerNews. The post was about creating opportunities in Silicon Valley with a blog. I’ve always considered creating a place for me to post some writings/musings that I have, but that post really persuaded me. I also came across an older post of his that also has the same convincing argument.

Isolationism

Ever since I started using the internet way back in elementary school, I’ve always been rather hesitant to reveal my identity to online communities. I’d never use the same username across websites. I filtered everything I said to remove any personal references.

I was late to get a Facebook profile because I didn’t see the value in it. I didn’t get a Twitter account for years even though I had known about it for ages. I even went through a period of roughly 1.5 years where I deactivated my Facebook account to focus on school and save time. It wasn’t until about last year that I realized this was just harming myself and decided to reverse it.

Creating an Identity

The first thing I did was to start to update my GitHub profile. I reasoned that having an active GitHub would be the most beneficial. I updated my profile picture and email, updated my dotfiles, created a few more repositories, and started following more people.

Next I bought a domain for myself and started to set up a personal web page. I started to link all of my profiles together. I started with GitHub but eventually started adding other profiles like Goodreads, Strava, Facebook, and so on.

In January, I decided to dedicate more time to using Twitter. I started tweeting regularly and started following some of the people pretty involved in the programming community. I quickly realized that Twitter was a great source for new and emerging technology as well as just general news.

After Twitter, a few more social sites followed. I created a Google+ profile even though the majority of my friends use Facebook. I also set up a LinkedIn profile which was arguably the most important social network that I wasn’t a part of.

To see all of my profiles, check out my About page.

Writings

Edsger W. Dijkstra is possibly one of my favorite Computer Scientists. His work has been completely pervasive in the field and has influenced many things. One of his most cherished habits was in creating amazing articles, called EWDs (for his initials), written in a fountain pen on a subject that interested him. He decided to start doing this because he suffered from writer’s block for over a year and discovered that if he writes just for himself, his writing just flowed. The University of Texas has since published over 1300 EWDs in an online archive.

I’ve thought about Dijkstra a lot. I really liked his idea of writing just for himself. I’ve kept numerous journals over the past few years and that’s always what motivated me to continue writing in them. I’ve just never had the motivation to share those writings with others.

I plan on changing all of that by making blogging a habit. My blog is probably going to suck at first but hopefully in a few years my ability will be quite refined. I’m going to set a strict minimum of two posts a month. I plan on exploring some things that interest me and already have a list of topics that I wish to write about.

Final Thoughts

I was very clearly wrong in thinking that social networks were a waste of time. I was also very wrong in thinking that if I just focused on my studies, I could still create opportunities for myself. I’m just glad I’ve realized this before I graduate from college next year.

I’d encourage everyone to start making an online presence as soon as possible even if you aren’t in the tech industry. If you are in the tech industry, there is nothing better that you can do with your time than invest in creating a blog/website. Like Nathan says, the return on investment is one of the highest things you can do.

You're awesome for reading this. You should follow me on Twitter and GitHub.