I don’t follow all the advice I receive via social media and blogs (because, oh, what a surreal life I would lead then!), but a blog by Garann Means found its way to my Twitterstream via Andy Mangold, and it is pretty much why this blog exists. Because I have been out here adapting, writing and honing code since my first Geocities (yup!) site in 1996. And I have written many, many, many things online since that time, but I’ve spent pretty much zero time writing about code or development or design. I knew I would benefit from thinking and writing about code, but…eh, who has the time? Garann made me see a greater purpose to having a technical blog:
You, developer in an underrepresented group who hopefully received this link somehow through the magical machinations of social media, should be blogging more. I need you to blog more. Little future developers who look or act or dress or think like you need you to blog more. Your slightly confused and defensive developer community needs you to blog more. Please please please please. And if you are like, “I give zero fucks about what those people need, I need to get off work at six and build charming birdhouses or customize my bicycle or something,” the best part is giving zero fucks is totally fine.
Of course, Garann wrote that post and I first saw it back in 2013. I immediately bookmarked it and started writing this initial post…and then I landed a few big freelance projects, got involved with Girl Develop It, got a job, bought a house, sent a kid off to college…essentially, life happened. But Garran’s words were bookmarked, both electronically and in my actual brainspace. And, in the interim, I’ve been extra aware when I’ve benefitted from others writing about code, their workflow, projects, tips and gripes. And that’s made me grateful and motivated to give back, even while still being a bit intimidated. As Garann points out:
The internet is full of horrible crap! If your horrible crap is at least well-intentioned, it’s probably a step up from the other horrible crap.
Admittedly, it can sometimes be a bit nerve-wracking to publicly be a woman doing your thing in the tech space. In general, coder culture has this vibe of always hacking, always improving, always questioning that I really love. I wish those values were enough to undo any sense of imposter syndrome or stereotype threat, but we’re not there yet. If you’ve been paying attention to women’s experiences online, I shouldn’t have to cite examples here — it’s been truly ugly and women have been harassed and threatened just for critiquing and participating in male-dominated spheres like tech and gaming. This has the understandable but completely shitty effect of making other women either not feel safe in tech at all or, do as I’ve been doing, just putting their heads down and doing the work without being very public about it.
But Garran’s words stuck with me. After completing a recent weekend Rails workshop, I decided to keep playing with Rails things and tested out a few different static site generators with the intention of finally getting my blog off the ground. On and off for about two months, I toyed around with different generators, different styles for the blog. Just as I was getting mucked down in the minutia, Vaidehi Joshi came through my Twitterstream with this excellent run down on the benefits of keeping a technical blog. I knuckled down and got the styles sorted, fixed some issues with Middleman I was working around and did my first commit to GitHub. And then got to the actual work of writing a blog post — I hope the first of many in this new space.
Thanks to Garann for the push, to Vaidehi for the nudge and to you for reading.