I have written nearly thirty posts on Dev.to and supplied countless (constructive) comments on posts of others. On the whole, I have found the experience rewarding and the community appreciative and supportive, even when they disagree with me. Here are the three main reasons why I will continue to write and I suggest you try it yourself, if you have not yet done so. If you already write posts, perhaps you might want say why you do in the comments below.
I first set out writing posts on other platforms but often found the community to be, shall we say, disingenuous. My initial articles captured and discussed things that concerned me within the Software Development industry, in which I have built a career. I explained things I thought where going wrong and ways I thought the industry was changing, in my opinion, for the worse.
I had discussed such issues with my peers but was concerned I was just creating an echo chamber as the majority of my peers have a similar background to me, so of course share my concerns. I wanted to widen the debate to include others that might have a different opinion to me and hopefully be able to explain why, and by doing so reassure me that, my concerns are unfounded. That way I might improve my understanding and find ways to accept disagreeable changes.
My educational background is in Computer Science and when I started it was the primary avenue into the industry. The industry has evolved, the range of skills has broadened and practices changed, largely for the better. I personally think the industry has far more opportunities for people from a far wider background. That said I do not agree there is no role for CS graduates in the industry, quite the opposite. I think building a team with an over dependence on developers with only bootcamp knowledge might be more cost effective (cheaper) but is foolhardy and limited.
Bootcamps do a very good job of showing budding developers how to use specific tools and technologies but seldom instruct why. Without an inquisitive mind or in a poor/inexperienced environment, the learning may cease shortly after completion of the bootcamp. In an industry that is continually changing, so must the knowledge of developers. I have learned far more since completing my CS degree than during my studies.
However, the knowledge I acquired through study has served me very well. The topics I studied were non-specific and foundational so have been applicable for far longer than I expect bootcamp learning might.
I therefor try to share some of the foundational knowledge I have, that is still applicable in modern development, but unlikely to be a taught in any bootcamp.
I should imagine most inquisitive developers continue learning after their studies and outside of work. Now days there are many avenues to learn beyond reading text books. There are podcasts, YouTube channels, on-line learning resources such Scrimba and Frontend Masters, and of course communities like Dev.to.
One of the best learning strategies I have found is to develop home projects as a way to confirming my knowledge and experimenting with new techniques, tools and technologies. This does require time (which is an expensive and rare commodity these days) and self discipline. Like many nascent music bands, it is often worth replicating what others have done and learn from them. To that ends, and to extract additional learning, I often document my home projects and share what I learned in the process.
The three reasons I have discussed above have a common theme: sharing. I hope to stimulate thought, discussion and feedback. I write not only as a one-way communication but as a dialogue and look forward to getting comments to my posts. Including this one.
Top comments (5)
Hi Tracy, I almost asked whether you were family of David Gilmour and lucky as I am, spotted the mistake in time!
Man, after reading your great post It was a damn sad event to see there were no comments! (Yeah, you could have seen that in the top-left menu bar you fool), I had to scold myself, but I didn't and found a big "empty" here.
I share your beginnings with BASIC on the college's mainframe as well as writing assembler for the Z80! Those were the days! I went into telecom engineering with the Grinaker group, seeing that I was fascinated by RF "black magic" a tad more than in CS. Analogue Frontend transceivers with noise levels of sub -120Dbm was my playground, lol!
The itch to learn programming was a continuous one, and flared up, especially when peeking over my younger sibling's shoulder when he was doing business system integration dev on Visual BASIC. It awed me how he built ERP stuff that simply integrated so seamlessly with Excel.
Excel was a tool to calculate my RF engineering equations with, what he did with it though always put my mind on a "trip".
Back to you, though. Are you doing blogging anywhere else or only here on DEV?
Your words "
drew my attention like a magnet, seeing that the way in which I had learned to study, and by the looks of it you too, is quite different from how knowledge gets smeared like jam on toast these days, and sometimes a bit too thin at that. I suppose it also has a lot to do with the costs involved in getting a BSc, M or D and then not finding work these days. (Have met people in their 40's with PhDs in Applied maths that were driving buses for extra income, while still paying off on their student loans.)
So finding you here on DEV was a blessing, and I will come browsing through your library here and on GitHub now and probably bug you with a question now and then too If you don't mind.
All the best!
Bug away, I mean feel free to contact my with your questions. Happy to help where I can.
I exclusively write at Dev.to now. In the past I have written posts on Medium and Linked-in. I have had several Wordpress sites but no-one every visited (so sad). I particularly like Dev.to because the community is responsive and friendly and the tools very user-friendly (and getting better all the time.)
I concur with your observation about higher education, especially the role of Computer Scientists (such as myself) in Software Engineering. I have two children that went to university, one to study art illustration, the other to study physics. The illustrator remains (5 years on) a struggling artist. The scientist, despite getting a 2:1 hons, retrained a year after graduating and has been a Software Engineer for the last five years.
As for the musical-genius David Gilmour, he creates such fine music I cannot bring myself to hold the fact he spells his surname wrong against him!
Thanks for the kind words and invitation, Tracy. I'll come asking when there's confusion.
I largely agree with you about writing here on DEV.to, and wholly about the people here in the community. And yes, their editing tools are quite nice.
What I have bumped into though, late Nov last year, was Substack. I went to have a look, did my first-ever blog post there and decided that it was going to be my go-to as a main hub for my writing. It's nice when there are people reacting to your work and even better when they leave a comment, but my sole purpose at this stage is to write for myself. Call it a public journal if you will.
In my current view, Substack lends itself to far better transparency regarding being controlled by moderators stating you don't have enough "karma" to do this, that or anything but sit and listen to others on Reddit.
Although, for me Reddit is a goldmine of information and a good school to experience the broader side of humanity's aches and pains in the areas I'm interested in. I's also where I got the idea and topic from for my very first public article, and subsequently when I was ready it wasn't accepted by the sub-Reddit it was originally intended for. Their bot-moderator knocked me for a six, lol. I wrote to the human counter parts, but nothing was heard since. So you have that to deal with too. Which seems unfortunate at face value, but possibly a fortunate event, seeing it led me to greener pastures.
I do everything in MS Word, proofread, tweak and format it too. Tried a copy and paste all tongue-in-cheek, and was I pleasantly surprised at the outcome! All was intact. Ok, I have to add, the images failed when loaded that way, and for all the obvious reasons (but I had to try :-D). So, now I simply do the copy-paste section by section, upload the image that was selected before, move on until all is there.
And while doing so one can do the same here on DEV.to in parallel, but doing it here needs a bit more tweaking.
I do recommend you take a look. It offers a lot of scope and makes doing this all the easier, while having access to a powerful and growing feature set, and at zero cost, nor having to maintain any servers or sites. All your work is copyrighted in your name, and on top of it all, you can convert your text to audio with a decent converter if you want and up-load it as a podcast which complements your posts (a11y comes to mind).
Well enough about all the writing stuff. It is sad to hear your kids having to battle through that after all the energy, human and moneywise, that went into getting those degrees. It seems to be an international phenomenon. Some of my nephews and nieces are in the same boat. 2 Lawyers, and 3 with Business Administration degrees, all battling to keep their standards of living, even at a lower middle-class level, while trying to keep a lid on their schooling debt.
I do hope though that they find their stride and wrangle their way through by not giving in. Who knows, maybe your artist-child discovers some form of digital canvas or podium providing not only career satisfaction, but also the source for a decent standard of living. The one involved in software development, well I guess it is going well doing that already too.
Of my four, three boys and one daughter, all but my middle-son opted not to go to university, but rather start their own thing. But doing so only after a few years of working in various menial labour posts (the best schools in life, those). After a year at varsity my middle-son decided, no it's not worth it and quit his studies.
And now, all four of them are doing their own thing, learning to own and run businesses, employing people and striking business deals, learning continuously as it never stops. Ironically all of them landed up in the IT services arena. Doing MSP + Network support for US firms, Cyber Security for local firms and fortunately, they are living quite comfortably, buying properties and chiselling out their lives as they see best. For that I'm eternally thankful and grateful!
Goodness, this is more a letter than a brief thank you. Regardless, it is good to make your acquaintance here, Tracy.
Oh! and thank you for sparing David Gilmour! I read that he got the old crew together and made a new recording release last year. It's a pity him and Roger Waters became "Kane & Abel" all those years ago.
All the best!
Great job, Tracy. That was my main reason for starting to post on Dev.to—share and help others. It just dawned on me that, as developers, we constantly learn and solve problems; why not share valuable lessons and shortcuts? There are no secrets; it’s all about applying the proper methods and principles. Keep posting!
I have been in software development a very long time and still learning. In my professional role I spend quite a bit of my time teaching/helping others, which gives me considerable pleasure. There is a saying, I think by Richard Feynman, along the lines "if you think you know a subject, try explaining it to someone else". This is my selfish motivation for writing.