Gersom van Ginkel

Gersom

Why I started blogging

Personal blogs are making their comeback, at least in the developer scene. I've decided to join in on the fun and in this first post I'll explain why.

Although the word blogging seems to be in decline, people are writing more online content than ever. A lot of it is being written in the walled gardens of social media or is getting lost in private conversations.

Recently, I have seen a lot of people launching personal websites. This inspired me to do the same, hoping to achieve the following goals:

  • Sharing knowledge.
  • Learning in public.
  • Owning my content.
  • Building a curated online identity.
  • Having a playground for development.

Sharing knowledge

The biggest reason holding me back from starting writing is the feeling that I'm not an absolute expert on any subject. But I've managed to overcome this mental block. Just look at it this way: Anything you write about could be useful to someone else to some extend. If you have a limited understanding about something, your writing might actually resonate better with beginners than some difficult expert article.

Another benefit of writing public posts is that it scales: instead of explaining something over and over again, I can just point people to my article.

Learning in public

Like many others, I'm inspired by Shawn Wang's article Learn in Public. The best way to learn is to teach other people. By forcing yourself to write down your knowledge, you'll find structures that will help you get a better understanding. One on the takeaways of Shawn's article is “Try your best to be right, but don't worry when you're wrong.” Learning in public also means making mistakes in public. This gives your readers a chance to correct you and therefore speed up your learning process.

Owning my content

I could off course post all my writing to platforms like Medium or LinkedIn, but then I'd give away control over target audience, indexing and free access. Medium, for example, allows for a maximum of three free articles per visitor per month. I believe it's better to host your own content and only use other platforms to link to your articles.

There is one other website that I would consider cross posting full articles to, which is dev.to. This developer-oriented community allows for a canonical URL, that points crawlers like Google to the original copy on my own website.

Building a curated online identity

People in real life are a cocktail of skills, weaknesses, weird interests and other personal traits. None of the social media websites allow for someone to fully express themselves in all of these different areas. Friends on Facebook don't want you to read your programming-related articles and connections on LinkedIn aren't that eager to see your holiday pictures. On this personal website I can present myself how I want.

I plan to write about anything that interests me. A side-effect of this is that companies will have a better idea of the freelancer they're about to hire. They can read my articles and get an estimate of my programming knowledge, while seeing what other things I care about.

Having a playground for development

I don't like to build useless side projects, just to try out a new library. This website provides me with a 'production environment' to try out new technologies.

My mind goes wild over website features that I can build. I might add a little widget that shows running stats, add a photo timeline of personal highlights (bye Instagram), or add an automatically generated PDF with my resume.


Less of a blog, more of a garden

I'm inspired by Tom Critchlow's “Building a digital garden” to not take the classic blogging approach. On a blog, you publish finished articles at given times, presented in a chronological order. I rather want to work this website as a wiki, improving existing articles and presenting them in a non-chronological way.