Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Blogged for 1,000+ Days Straight and All I Got Was…

I have blogged now for more than 1,000 days straight. Every day. No holidays. No sick days. 2+ years. Every. Single. Day.

At some point, I will look back on all of this and write up a proper retrospective on what this has meant to me—both professionally and personally. For now, it seemed a sufficiently significant milestone that I ought to take a moment to acknowledge it.

The last day that I did not blog was April 24, 2011. Since April 25 of that year, I started every day with a question to which I did not know the answer and did my best to answer it. I did not always succeed in answering that question (I couldn't get mod_spdy working on my very first day!), but I always made a good faith effort. More often than not, I advanced my knowledge significantly. When I did not, I learned enough to rephrase the question for the next day.

That approach worked. Not only did I learn, but these research notes would serve as the basis for five books (well 4½).

The Books

The five books that have grown from these efforts are:

I can honestly say that I love each of those books. The SPDY Book was my first and remains, to the best of my knowledge, the only technical networking book to use crayon illustrations. Recipes with Backbone was the first that I co-authored—I learned so much working closely with my friend, the wonderful Nick Gauthier. Dart for Hipsters, of course, introduced me to the world of Dart, which I have not left. I tried my hand at giving back with 3D Game Programming for Kids, hoping to introduce a next generation to programming in the fashion that I learned to code (albeit with cooler graphics). Finally, Patterns in Polymer is, to the best of my knowledge, the first book to be simultaneously translated into two different programming languages (JavaScript and Dart).

Naturally, I learned a ton on this epic adventure—there seem to be an infinite number of fun technologies and cool communities out there. But what I appreciate the most is the mundane, not the epic.

The Mundane Epic

I did not make it through 1,000 blog posts and 5 books with insane effort or burning passion. I lack intense passion. What I do have is dull, plodding passion. I'm pretty sure dull, plodding passion always wins. Let's call a burning passion what it really is: infatuation. And infatuation will easily exhaust anything it touches.

In many ways, I find happiness an interesting comparison. The Happiness Hypothesis the two kinds of passion thusly:

The big spike of infatuation sure has its appeal and is a ton of fun. But it is over so quickly that the total amount of happiness / production simply can not compare with total area under the happiness that comes from a serene commitment to something or somebody.

Do Not Try This At Home

Look, I am not trying to start a trend or a movement here. I found something that works for me. I fully acknowledge that I start from the lowest difficulty setting.

This was not about elevating myself about others. It is simply about pushing myself to see what would happen if I tried to accomplish something crazy. Maybe this exact approach would work for someone else, but that's not really the point. The point is, if at all possible, to find that dull, plodding commitment that will bring about real happiness.

Speaking of happiness, I'm not sure this would be possible as a first priority in life. My wife and three (soon to be four) kids remain my first priority. I'm lucky to have overlap: my wife is my first editor on all of my books and served as QA for the 3D Kids book, while my kids served as guinea pigs. Family time (vacations, school and sports activities, meals, etc) is sacrosanct. Even if I have a deadline for this, I do what I can to ensure that I carve out time for my first priority.

The Dullest Man in the World

So maybe I am trying to start something. I would like to be recognized as the dullest, most plodding person in the world. Because it earned me a ton.

I blogged for 1,000+ days and all I got was heaps of knowledge and a little extra happiness in this life. And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Because I am just that dull.

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