Why write a blog?

Why write a blog? What interests do I have in writing this blog?  What do I hope to accomplish?  I feel that answering these questions will help me write more to the point in the future.  Answering these questions will allow me to provide better content for me to write and whoever to read.

The first obvious reason that people write a blog is that people think they have something to say. They feel that they have some message, some content, something important. This idea is fundamentally powered by the ego, “self-esteem”, pride.  It’s the same reason that people like to hear themselves talk, the only difference is that the words can be chosen more skillfully.  I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t writing to fulfill some sense of self-gratification. As a byproduct of how we were raised, approval seeking can explain a lot of our behavior.  My goal is to keep this to a minimum.  I cannot deny its existence or its motivation in writing this blog, but my other reasons for writing should take precedence.

The second reason that people write blogs is because they legitimately have something useful to share.  Writers of political blogs believe they are contributing to democracy.  Writers of music blogs believe they are contributing to music community.  Writers of technical blogs believe they are contributing to the technical community.  So what is kevinengineer contributing to?

Presently, I intend to document two projects that I’m working on– senior design project and image/video processing project.  With documenting these projects, I hope to include the source code for these projects, allowing future students or engineers to benefit from my experience on the project.  I also hope to include useful comments for the design, testing, and validation processes.  Documenting these projects will also greatly benefit my future work.  Having the source code and documentation online will help me find it while on the job.  Boy, if I had every piece of code I ever wrote online, I would have such a resource on my hands.  The reality is that all my code is spread over hard drives, CDs, and computers.  It’s not that there is a ton of it, it’s just that I never took the time to consolidate it.  This blog presents the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I also intend to document the job search process.  As I approach graduation from UT in mere weeks, its time to polish up that ol’ resume and start applying for work.  I’ll be sure to post research I conduct on cities and companies.  In this current job market, I know better than to limit myself to a particular area or company.  I’ll take what I can get!  This research will help me keep all my research together; maybe it will even help you out.

“John D. McDonald said that you had to write a million words before you really knew what you were doing. A million words is ten years. By that time you should have a definite idea of what you want your writing to sound like.” [http://americareads.blogspot.com/2006/11/writing-your-first-million-words.html]  I read this quote (or perhaps a similar quote) quite some time ago and it really resonated with me.  Having played 1 million bad notes/chords with music, surely its much the same for music as it is for writing.  If it takes a million words, by golly I better get busy.  I’ve kept a private journal for many years, but when I write for an audience of 1 (me), I get very lazy with my handwriting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Publishing my work online will (hopefully) alleviate that carelessness.

That being said, perhaps the biggest purpose of this blog is my own self-improvement as a writer.  I’d really like to contribute something along the way and have people think I’m cool or whatever, but if I fail to meet those peripheral goals I won’t be disappointed in the least.  I need to write a million words.  I need to get the million bad words out of my system.  When I threw discus in high school (lol, right?), I would warm up before each track meet by throwing ten or so bad throws.  This accomplished several useful things.  Mentally, I was focus on the positive for my next throw since I had already finished doing bad throws.  It also let me relax since I had already embarrassed myself in the warm up.  The other team saw my warm up throws, “what a joke”, they probably thought.  Not taking myself too seriously allowed me to be more comfortable and not worry about the outcome of the throw.  I look to blogging to accomplish the same thing.  These are my warm up throws.  Maybe there are a few good ones that come out, but overall I’m not trying to impress anyone (trying not to try to impress anyone).  But then again, who actually reads these things?  I’d be kidding myself if 3 people read this regularly.  No pressure.

So what if I write my 1 million words, then what?  I do not know; I have not thought that far ahead.  The short-term goal here is to improve my writing, ability to communicate abstract ideas, and have a creative outlet.  Consider how I spend the majority of my time– I am an electrical engineering student.  Do you know what that means?  Unless you are an electrical engineering student, you have no idea what that means, so let me tell you about it.  I spent 40+ hours a week in front of a computer, engineering professor, or engineering texts.  Monday thru Friday, 90% of all stimuli that my brain receives are equations, engineering problems, or code.  As a result of this, I noticed that I was having a hard time finding the right word many times in conversation, email writing, or paper writing.  In high school, I could churn out a 5 page paper in an hour if I really had to.  Nowadays, not so much.  It’s all use and disuse.  Now that I am enrolled in History and Government this semester, I have been inundated with papers and reading.  I’ve seen a drastic improvement in my ability to communicate.  I feel human again!  The machines didn’t win.

Perhaps the greatest result that can come from writing is removing my self-inhibition from my writing.  Publishing the work online will keep the overall quality better because I don’t want to publish crap online and it will challenge me to practice writing my thoughts and opinion without fear.  I am not the kind of person that goes around saying “I don’t care what you think”.  Some people think that’s some sort of badge of honor that they don’t give a f*** about what you think.  Unfortunately, I do.  Against my own intuition, I am writing personal thoughts and publishing them.  Someone once told me I am a closed book.  I still chuckle at that notion, but it is absolutely dead on.

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