Friday, February 24, 2012

Think, write, repeat

While you may be able to download an application that turns even your crappy cell phone pics into something hipsters will rave about on Facebook, or transform your worst karaoke showing into a pop song that would make Bieber proud, there isn't an app on earth that can make you a better critical thinker, or compensate for deficient writing skills.  In a world where (almost) everyone is a publisher, good writing skills and the ability to think critically are likely key differentiators.  

They are also mutually reinforcing

The more you think critically the better you are at expressing those thoughts in writing, the more you express those thoughts in writing, the deeper you can push your understanding.  

The thoughts I share here are ones I bat around in my head for weeks at a time.  What goes live on Friday mornings is always something that has been written, rewritten, completely torn apart, and slowly pieced back together.  I understand that the process, while often brutal and stressful, ultimately leads to a depth of understanding that I couldn't achieve if I simply shot from the hip and riffed on a particular subject.  In fact, over the years, I have collected a number of unfinished blog posts (over a hundred in fact) that I simply haven't been able to frame properly yet.

But this blog is not just a training ground for my skills, it is a living and growing portfolio that demonstrates those skills in action, and as such it's become far more valuable than my (traditional) resume alone (more on this below). 

It's a knowledge economy, stupid

The problem with a conventional resume is that it actually doesn't demonstrate any of the abilities listed on it (with the possible exception of effective communication). This week I came across a post called "Github is my resume" (via Ycombinator).  In it, a Python coder (named pyDanny), argues that, while traditional resumes are a passive inventory of tasks and responsibilities (and thus ripe for embellishment), an online repository of your work (in his case Github) is an active demonstration of those abilities. The comments on the article brought some nuance to the discussion, which eventually settled on the idea that a static resume is still a valuable tool, but what programmers really need (and what a service like Github can be) is a portfolio.

Given, I'm not a coder (you might not be one either) but the logic is the same (paraphrasing pyDanny): 

If you write every day or every week, over time your writing will get better; you'll also be able to demonstrate a consistent body of work, and your passion will be obvious. 

Where's your passion?

Where is your living portfolio? 

Isn't it time you started thinking, writing and repeating?

Originally published by Nick Charney at
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