On Blogging, Technical, Personal and Intimate

Sometimes people ask me why I don't put more "personal" details in my blogs--those who know me know that I'm generally pretty outspoken on a number of topics ranging far beyond that of simple technology. While sometimes those opinions do manage to leak their way here, for the most part, I try to avoid the taboo topics (politics/sex/religion, among others) here in an effort to keep things technically focused. Or, at least, as technically focused as I can, anyway.

But there've been some other reasons I've avoided the public spotlight on my non-technical details, too.

This essay from the New York Times (which may require registration, I'm not sure) captures, in some ways, the things that anyone who blogs should consciously consider before blogging: when you blog, you are putting yourself out into the public eye in a way that we as a society have never had before. In prior generations, it was always possible to "hide" from the world around us by simply not taking the paths that lead to public exposure--no photos, no quotations in the newspaper, and so on. Now, thanks to Google, anybody can find you with a few keystrokes.

In some ways, it's funny--the Internet creates a layer of anonymity, and yet, takes it away at the same time. (There has to be a sociology or psychology master's thesis in there, waiting to be researched and written. Email me if you know of one?)

Ah, right. The point. Must get back to the point.

As you read peoples' blogs and consider commenting on what you've read, I implore you, remember that on the other end of that blog is a real person, with feelings and concerns and yes, in most cases, that same feeling of inadequacy that plagues us all. What you say in your comments can and will, no matter how slight, either raise them up, or else wound them. Sometimes, if you're particularly vitriolic about it, you can even induce that "blogging burnout" Emily mentions in her essay.

And, in case you were wondering: Yep, that goes for me, too. You, dear reader, can make me feel like shit, if you put your mind to it strongly enough.

That doesn't mean I don't want comments or am suddenly afraid of being rejected online--far from it. I post here the thoughts and ideas that yes, I believe in, but also because I want to see if others believe in them. In the event others don't, I want to hear their criticism and hear their logic as they find the holes in the argument. Sometimes I even agree with the contrary opinion, or find merit in going back to revisit my thinking on the subject--case in point, right now I'm going back to look at Erlang more deeply to see if Steve is right. (Thus far, cruising through some Erlang code, looking at Erlang's behavior in a debugger, and walking my way through various parts of the BEAM engine, I still think Erlang's fabled support for robustness and correctness--none of which I disagreed with, by the way--comes mostly from the language, not the execution engine, for whatever that's worth. And apparently I'm not the only one. But that's neither here nor there--Steve thinks he's right, and I doubt any words of mine would change his opinion on that, judging from the tone of his posts on the matter. *shrug* Fortunately, I'm far more concerned with correcting my own understanding in the event of incorrectness than I am anybody else's. :-) )

In any event, to those of you who are curious as to the more personal details, I'm sorry, but they're not going to show up here any time soon. If you're that curious, find me at a conference, introduce yourself, buy me a glass of red wine (Zinfandel's always good) or Scotch, double neat (Macallan 18, or maybe a 25 if you're asking really personal stuff), and let's settle into some comfy chairs and talk.

That's always a far more enjoyable experience than typing at the keyboard.