Ben's Website

Serious musings

Why I Write

In this post I want to write out some of my motivation for continuing to write a personal website, particularly given the ongoing developments in social media and the Substack newsletter trend.

  • First, I greatly enjoy thinking about what is possible which means that much of my day-to-day reading is in some part motivated on a view to the future, having an ongoing question of whether this or that development will be important or integral to the future. This means that, as I write, I have 126 open tabs in my general purpose browser window, while Mechanomy and my other projects each have their own queues of follow-ups. Which is to say that while reading I have many ideas, but haven't had a place to do anything about them. This website can be an intermediary place to write down and explore the cross-currents between these various developments. And this elaboration on the threads seen between the differing articles is where much of the value can be found. Writing out these ideas helps me to think them through, thereby improving and making more solid my own thinking and creating an artifact which can be shared with others.

  • Related to this is a desire to contribute to and build community, both locally and online in various niches. For instance I've enjoyed following the burgeoning 'progress studies' group of economists, historians, and writers on twitter. I'd like to be able to comment on their work and possibly contribute something back, but I can only contribute if I've worked through a concept; the one-off thought can be lobbed on twitter, but the explored point is of far more use.

  • I should elaborate more in a later post, but I have noticed significant differences between the software and hardware engineering communities in how engineers relate to their field and organization. Hardware engineers really don't write, they rarely share what technologies they're working on and what makes their work cool and essential. Their corporate blog posts are boring and unlikely to make anyone want to work for their company or become an engineer. In contrast software engineering is marked by advocates: because there are multiple languages and technologies for any given task, engineers need to rationalize and sell their colleagues on one architecture versus another. These rationales bleed into engineering blog posts which serve to communicate technical points in an appropriately-proud manner: "look at the cool engineering we're doing to provide this capability to you". This helps to circulate skills and best-practices, advancing the whole community without compromising their organization's strategic position. All of that is to say that writing is important and something I wish more engineers would take up.

  • I think it is good to charitably share my frustrations with the way things are and to yearn for their improvement. The website provides me a place to lay out what is wrong or may be improved with any number of things, from business models to retail stores to futurism. As an entrepreneur I know well how hard it is to find support for various hypotheses and to find those essential first users who truly get the problem you're trying to solve; sharing some of my frustrations and hopes might encourage their solution.

  • Lastly, writing my website should improve my writing, an essential skill that does need exercise.

Those are my main reasons for writing; I may discover more later and add them here. Do you write a blog? Why do you do so? Tweet me your reasons or any comments.