TITLE: Reflecting on a Year of Knowing and Doing AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 09, 2005 8:01 AM DESC: Knowing and Doing was born one year ago today. I regard it a success. ----- BODY:

Why do you never find anything written about that
idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your
fascination with something no one else understands?
Because it is up to you.

-- Annie Dillard, "The Writing Life"

Today is the one-year anniversary of Knowing and Doing. When I first started, I was not certain that I had anything to say, at least anything that anyone with a real life would want to take time out from their lives to read. I decided, though, that the writing would be its own reward; that, in taking the time to put words to the thoughts in my head, I would have better, more complete thoughts. So I wrote. I wrote down thoughts I had as I read interesting books, as I chaired conferences, as I wrote programs, as I taught classes, and as I ran. Somehow, they seemed worth writing down to me. My 100th post came on November 20. My 200th post came in the midst of agile moments on May 31. There is little doubt that my most-read post so far has been this report on Alan Kay's talks at OOPSLA 2004. I've seen it referenced and linked to more often than any other article I wrote; I received more individual e-mail responses to it than any other as well. That article is a great example of what blogs can do for both the writer and the world of readers. Alan's talks inspired me, and I wanted record the source of that inspiration for my own long-term benefit. So I blogged it. Writing it all down and organization a coherent report enriched my own experience. But by blogging it, I helped share a small part of the experience with many folks who were unable to come to OOPSLA and hear the talks for themselves. I only hope that my article helped Alan to inspire some of those readers, who found my article as regular readers of Knowing and Doing, or who stumbled upon it via a Google search. It is important to put Alan's ideas before as many people as possible, so that they will find a home in the minds that can make his vision a reality. Perhaps someday, I will be one of the folks who helps to make Alan's vision reality, but perhaps I have an even greater chance of affecting the world by writing about what I see, hear, and learn, and helping greater minds than mine run with ideas. When I first starting writing my blog, I asked a net acquaintance who blogs how to get people to read my stuff. What a lame question that was. It turns out that there isn't much of a recipe for creating readership other than "write stuff people want to read". I just started writing, and a small readership, word of mouth, and Google did the rest. I don't have any idea how many people read my blog regularly, because I've never tried to capture that data, or retrieve it from web server logs. I do know that I receive occasional e-mail from folks who have read an article and taken the extra initiative to drop me a line. I'm surprised by how good that feels, even today. The best way to write stuff people want to read is to write stuff that matters to you. If an idea matters to you, then it matters. Getting over the fear that no one will care frees you to get down to work. Jorn Barger, considered by some the coiner of the term 'weblog', once wrote, "The more interesting your life becomes, the less you post... and vice versa." Perhaps he was talking about the sort of blog that only reports the daily trivia of life, in which case more blogging reflects more triviality. But my experience as a blogger is just the opposite: the more interesting thoughts I have, the more I blog. I write more when I am reading good books, going to good conferences, discussing provocative ideas with smart friends and colleagues, and doing challenging work. The times I am blocked or uninspired are the times when I am not doing much interesting in my life. In that sense, Knowing and Doing serves as a barometer for the quality of my own intellectual experiences. When the mercury drops too low, I need to shake things up. Sometimes, it's as simple as taking friends' advice to read a couple of old articles ( [1] and [2]) and seeing what a master has to teach me today.

Upon which I reminded myself that on the whole,
throughout life as a whole, the appetites which
do not arise until we have resolved to eat,
which cannot be comprehended until we have eaten,
are the noblest....

-- Glenway Wescott, "The Pilgrim Hawk"

Last July 9, I said, Welcome to my blog. This July 9, I say "Thank you". Let's see what a second year of Knowing and Doing will be. -----