The 12th day of SQL
|My Christmas tree is like this post; short, easy to assemble, and a little tacky.|
So, at the first FreeCon, a bunch of writers gathered together and talked about stuff. Most of the stuff we talked about was how to be a better technical writer, as well as how to blend our writing skills with our own personal and professional goals.Â We dismissed from that conference eager to write, and looking for opportunities to hone our skills; this particular series of posts was born of that collaboration, and I hope that other series will follow.Â While I could list out each individual post in the Twelve Days of SQL series, itâ€™s probably more fun to start at the beginning.Â Youâ€™ll eventually get back to this one, I hope (if you donâ€™t poke out your eyes after seeing David Steinâ€™s Christmas ornament).
Most of the other posts have described their favorite post of the year.Â Me?Â I wanna go out with a bang, a celebration of those posts that we all rely on but rarely celebrate.Â At the heart of the technical blogging community is, well, the technical blog post, and itâ€™s these posts which rarely get attention.Â We often celebrate those witty and well crafted posts, but we rarely celebrate the â€śhow to do thisâ€ť posts.Â Sometimes these posts are little more than scripts; sometimes theyâ€™re well-crafted opera describing how to do a single thing.
Why do I sing praises of these short-but-sweet articles?Â Iâ€™ll answer that in the form of a metaphorâ€¦
The Ghost of SQL Past
All blogs begin with a first post, and that first post leads to another.Â Many of us that are regular (or irregular in my case) bloggers began our blogs with a few scripts and sample code.Â Why?Â Because it was a useful place to dump content that we wanted to remember.Â Â Some fine examples of this are Aaron Nelson’s early posts on PowerShell and Ken Simpsonâ€™s XML to Pivot scripts.Â These early works are indicators of great things to come; their blogs are littered with samples and ideas.
But good technical blogs are born not only of coding tricks; writers craft their works by expanding their repertoire beyond scripts and samples, and move on to include their observations of life.Â Sometimes these observations are a bit too revealing (as in Brent Ozarâ€™s self-professed love of amphibians); usually they are fascinating insights into the character of a person.Â When Andy Leonard comments that Iteration = Maturity, heâ€™s not just talking about software.
The Ghost of SQL Present
In recent days, newer bloggers have carried on the tradition of the technical post, but are finding ways to blend in a sense of community as well (like David Taylorâ€™s exposition on #sqlhelp).Â Â A quirky sense of humor works as well, as in Julie Smithâ€™s opera of concatenation (I wonâ€™t spoil it for you, but there may be magic involved).Â Successful technical blogs should be both fun to read, as well as provide some insight into how to do something.
The Ghost of SQL Future
Not much to say here, because weâ€™re not there yet.Â Hopefully, what Iâ€™ll see in the future is an evolution of what weâ€™ve seen so far in the Past and the Present, but I hope that youâ€™re reading this because you want to understand how to be a better blogger.Â Â Technical blogs need technical content, but good technical blogs need a sense of whimsy, a touch of your personal style, and a nod to the community of content out there. Others have far better posts than I on that subject, but the simplest piece of advice I can give you is:
Thatâ€™s it.Â Write, because when you write, you force yourself to think, and thinking is the strongest tool in the toolbox for a technical person.Â Â Believe me, Iâ€™m pointing the finger squarely at myself on this one as well; I have been far too reticent in my writing as of late, and I hope to rectify that shortly.Â But back to you; next year, I hope to celebrate your writing in a similar post.Â Tell me how to do something; share your experiences, and educate your peers.Â
Up Next?Â Steve Jones, for the cleanup!