20 years

September 30, 2018

This post was going to be about keeping your goals private, but I realized something else while writing it: I have over 20 years' experience writing on the public web.

I caught the tail end of dial-up BBSes in the mid-90s, and eventually got a shell account with web hosting. I learned the rudiments of HTML when I was 12 or 13, got a Livejournal when I was 15, and have blogged on and off ever since.

Just like this guy:

I'm a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it's not even 10pm and it's a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland facebook is open on my computer desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics. I almost want to put pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.

Anyone who's seen The Social Network would recognize that; it's Mark Zuckerberg's initial post while hacking the first version of facemash. It's very typical of the time: just blast out a post about whatever was on your mind; casual, fast, rough-and-ready. I know because I wrote stuff like this, too.

That was 2003; today, the stakes are higher. "The Internet is written in ink".

Kids today have it so much harder.

I also realized how I became a good writer by high school standards: tons of practice. I'm not good by adult standards. But as a teenager, 4-5 years of deliberate practice really sets you apart. That's the basis of my advice yesterday to junior developers:

Rack up experience. It's much better to be working than not working.

I appreciate this more with each passing day: deliberate practice is key to mastery. And great mentors can accelerate the process tremendously.