Lift off

Starting a blog.

The other day I had someone ask me why I had a certain piece of code. Whether it had something to do with my graduation? When I explained that it was for a hobby project of mine I got a semi-blank look. I quickly explained that I like to build stuff and the message got through. Kind of.

What I couldn’t explain however was the deeper purpose of my doings and the views that accompany those. How did I get to where I am and how I’ll continue. What other thoughts I have, be they related or not. What actions and events lead to those thoughts.

That is when it hit me. This was the moment when I finally understood (on that deep, almost physical level) what writing texts is about. It’s about leaving bread crumbs, small tokens that denote your spot on the map and how you got there. They lie out in the open, visible for all. They tell the story and explain the rationale.

As fate would have it I just finished Clay Johnsons‘s The Information Diet. In it Johnson explains what constitutes a bad information diet, what the effects of said bad diet are and concludes with a thorough discussion on why and how to improve. It all boils down to data literacy: “the ability to process, sort and filter vast quantities of information”. So far so good as this was more or less my definition of data literacy. I thought I enjoyed a decent diet. I stay away from 9GAG, cheap celebrity news, sensationalism and generally succeed in finding stuff with Google.

Turns out this is only half of Johnson’s diet. The other half is information creation and synthesis. Information creation is all about effectively relaying one’s thoughts to other minds while synthesis is about taking in other people’s thoughts and ideas and mingling them with your own. As Johnson aptly puts it “These […] concepts aren’t skills you’ll learn simply from reading the pages in a chapter of this book. It’s a skill that takes years, lots of practice, and constant refinement to develop.” The fruits of which are well-known and much discussed. We all know that it’s good for us, but few (including me) do it on a regular basis.

I got lucky is what I think happened. I got the rare combination of an internal discovery (that almost physical ‘click’ you hear when you thoroughly get something) with an external validation. Such occasions are rare, so I’m acting.



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