Edward Qiu

Computer Science Student

Why I Started Blogging?

So Edward… why did you start blogging? After showing my blog to a few of my friends, that question popped up frequently. The goal of this post is to:

  1. Provide the reasons why I started blogging for anyone else who is interested in my answer to the question
  2. Set up an accountability system to increase the likelihood I continue blogging by announce to it to the internet
  3. Generate web traffic 😏

1. To help build the habit of daily journaling

One of the habits I've been trying to build is daily journaling, the process of dumping of my thoughts and feelings onto paper daily. If you are interested in the reasons why I journal, check out Why I Journal?. The quick summary is journaling is important for my mental health and productivity.

The thought that there may be someone who is interested in my thoughts makes me more likely to want to share my thoughts, which gives me more motivation to force my thoughts onto paper. Blogging supplements the process of building the habit of daily journaling with some additional motivation.

2. To force the organization of my thoughts on a topic

Knowing that I must present information in a way that others can understand causes me to attempt to think from multiple perspectives to generate the best delivery of my thoughts. The exercise of attempting to think from another perspective results in the conscious practice of empathy defined by David Foster Wallace in This is Water and decreases the frequency in which I am in my default-setting. Foster defines default-setting as our natural state in which we see and interpret everything through the lens of self.

The process of thinking starting from different angles results in encountering more cases where the topic can be applied than I have originally thought and causes the information to stick around in my head for longer. A story that encapsulates the idea well was when:

Richard Feynman had to prepare a freshman-level lecture at CalTech for why one-half particles obey Fermi Dirac statistics, but he returned a few days later to say “You know, I couldn't do it. I couldn't reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don't really understand it.”

In other words, if you cannot teach/explain it to someone else, you don't understand it well enough.

The organization of my thoughts is another way for me to check my assumptions and exercise caution before implementing a topic into the systems of values and beliefs in my life.

3. To challenge the integrity of my thoughts

The goal of writing is to persuade or share one's view on an idea with others. Blogging is a tool for me to foster the need to gather additional evidence for and against my claims, which forces me to consciously ask myself "What would someone who disagrees with this idea say?". It's very likely I start writing with one idea that I believe is true and valuable and the result of gathering more information causes me to concluding that idea is false or not useful. Hopefully, the blog post you end up reading holds water.

Richard Feynman once stated in his 1974 CalTech commencement address, “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool”.

Feynman's statement has been cross-checked in the field of psychology as cognitive biases. I hope to avoid confirmation bias, distinction bias, and the illusion of validity through blogging.

4. To make it easy for others to challenge my thoughts

I've included a comment section at the end of each blog post in hopes someone challenges what I have wrote.

I'm not perfect and most of the time my ideas are probably incorrect. I encourage anyone to try to poke holes in my ideas and feel free to provide any feedback. Your feedback would help me see things from a different perspective and introduce me to new information.

Please help a confused fellow human out!

5. To create the possibility my ideas are useful to someone else

Like why people become teachers, writers, and social workers, I hope that some of my ideas may inspire improvement in someone else's life. Helping someone with no additional cost of my own, I think that is a pretty sweet deal and if I have helped one person, I would count that as a win my book.

For the structure of my blog posts, check out my first post.