Why I write online as a Software Engineer - Unlocking understanding, memory, and progress

Date: 2024-01-12 | create | share | writing |

I've published writing online since 2011 - that's over 10 years of sharing thoughts on the internet. In this post I'll share the benefits of this habit and why I continue to heavily invest in writing online.


There's a great quote that goes something like "Writing is understanding what you think".

You get several benefits from writing - even if you never share it with others.

  • You put all your ideas on a topic in one place, without distractions
  • You can more easily survey these ideas and understand their connections allowing for new perspectives, arrangements, and connections
  • You can more objectively reflect on these ideas - they are no longer your ideas, just ideas on a page

Writing makes it more clear what you're actually thinking which allows you to better understand your thoughts and further refine them into Knowledge.

I think this is why it's so effective to write down your hypotheses when debugging / building. It's like rubberducking yourself.


What use is knowledge if you don't remember it? Not that useful.

Knowledge is only as powerful as our ability to apply it. I can know infinite facts but if I can't actually use those facts to improve my lived reality then that knowledge is effectively useless.

  • Knowledge is power - aka the potential for impact
  • Applied knowledge is impact - aka actually affecting your lived reality

But in order to have this impact I must be able to recall the knowledge necessary to produce it. The human mind / memory is a fickle thing - quite powerful but less reliable than we might like.

By writing and sharing my Ideas turned Knowledge online, I effectively etch that knowledge into eternity with a fast, precise, and globally-accessible way to recall it on-demand via a URL. This gives me access to the full extent of my knowledgebase whenever and wherever I want it so long as I have internet access and have previously recorded this Knowledge.

By recording my knowledge in this way, I remove a whole class of issues that might cripple my Idea -> Impact pipeline.


I am one. We are legion.

So far my writing system is able to turn raw ideas into refined knowledge and make it accessible for application towards impact. This is good but there's still a clear bottleneck in this pipeline - me.

Each step in this system is bottlenecked by my own ability to progress through the Creation Cycle.

  • Observing the world
  • Creating Ideas -> Knowledge -> Impact
  • Reflecting on this cycle to do better next time

In software we have two primary methods of scaling a static system - vertical and horizontal scaling.

Vertical Scaling involves scaling a single instance to have more horsepower (more compute, more memory) so it can do more of a thing faster. In human terms this is like getting good sleep, upleveling my skills, and practicing regularly. It works but it's clear that there's a ceiling on how much one instance can grow / get done in a given time frame.

Horizontal Scaling involves scaling by adding additional instances. So instead of a bigger engine we'll use 10 of the same engines to theoretically get 10x more done. This is more similar to hiring, delegating, and - as we'll see - sharing.

I can't currently spin up more Hams - though we might be getting pretty close with these new AIs. But I can share my Knowledge with more humans.

Not everyone will take the time to ingest this Knowledge but for each one that does, I get one more brain to further process, refine, and progress it into a new form.

Some will use this Knowledge to inform their own Idea -> Impact pipeline. Still others will share that new form back to me, allowing for another cycle to further process, refine, and progress the Idea based on new input.

There's only one of me but literally billions of !me (and many more billions to come). If we think of humanity as one large organism - scaling Ideas -> Knowledge horizontally is the only way to reasonably progress Knowledge across our collective conscious.


The only way to know something for sure is to try it and see what happens. That's what I do to my Ideas by writing online. That's how I progress and scale them beyond what I could do myself.

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