Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Finding time to blog

Over on Science Blogs, they've asked the bloggers to answer this question:

How is it that all the PIs (Tara, PZ, Orac et al.), various grad students, post-docs, etc. find time to fulfill their primary objectives (day jobs) and blog so prolifically?
Though I don't blog on Science Blogs, I thought I'd answer it too. My favourite Science Blogs blogger, PZ Myers gave a seven-part, light-hearted, witty answer, proving his prolifitude prolificity volume and his sense of humour. That being done, I guess I'll give a serious answer.

I don't "find" time for it; I make time for it. As we study spam, and what we can do about it, we end up discussing the figures for the cost of spam, and those figures invariably include an element for the loss of productivity caused by end users having to deal with spam. At some level, that's a little bogus — if I'm working on something and I have to take five minutes out to delete some spam, I'm not going to lose five minutes of work. But when I think more on it, I realize that it's not bogus, because there's an essentially infinite amount of work for me to do, and anything that takes time out interferes with that in some way or other. Even if I'm doing it "on my own time", it all fits together, and maybe that means that I'll do less reading, or get out of bed a few minutes later the next morning, or whatever. There's a cascading effect to anything that takes time out of what I normally do.

Blogging is that way — initially, it took time out of what I do. But the fact is that now it is part of what I do, and I've made time in my day to do it. That's a choice, made along with micro-changes in my daily routine (and non-routine). So perhaps the real question here is not how I've made the time for it, but why. Why do I want to do it enough to choose to read less or sleep less or hike less, or to give up those precious few minutes I have to sit on the sofa and stare into space?

I do it because I love verbal communication, and writing is an outlet. I don't play music, I don't sing, I don't draw or paint or sculpt. Writing here is what passes for an artistic outlet for me, and there's something satisfying about doing it. If it makes me feel better for having done it, it's worth it.

I do it with the thought that someone may benefit from what I have to say. Perhaps someone will learn something from reading what I say about computers, email, Internet standards... or square dancing, hiking, or politics. If I can teach one thing to one person, it's worth it.

I do it in the hope that it can make a difference, however minuscule. Maybe I can sway someone with a political or social commentary; maybe someone will say, "Hm, I hadn't thought of it that way before," and will consider what I've said and look at the issue in a new light. If I can make one person do that, it's worth it.

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