A Meander

Because some days you want to write, but don’t have anything particularly focused or coherent to say.

February 09, 2018Filed under blog#ethics#literature#open-source software#reading#writingMarkdown source

This is a meander. I have a bunch of mostly-unformed thoughts, and I want to write, and the two come out here, together, in the next few minutes before I start my workday proper (because I stayed up late last night working on open source software and got up late accordingly, and so have a great deal less of my normally-allocated writing time available today).


1.

Open-source software is a very strange place, and the dynamics of it favor those of us who already have well-paying jobs and lots of flexibility in our schedule.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means that anyone who wants to use open-source contribution as a gauge of someone’s fitness to work is making a pretty foolish decision, though: they’re inherently cutting off a whole sector—dare I say it, a whole class—of people who simply do not (and, barring being given a pretty surprising break, will never) have that kind of stability and flexibility.

2.

Twitter is really, really bad for meaningful discussion. I follow both Noah Smith (@noahpinion) and Lyman Stone (@lymanstoneky), and they’re both extremely interesting follows, and they’re both clearly really smart and really well-informed, and in their off-Twitter writing they both do a good job of fairly representing others’ views and interacting with them.

On Twitter, their arguments are a disaster.

This is not specific to Smith and Stone. This is Twitter in one pair of interlocutors.

Seriously: stop tweeting and start blogging again, if you have an argument to make rather than just a pithy, one-off observation or a link to share.

3.

You can get a surprising amount of writing done in 5 minutes, if you’re willing to just word-vomit. (This whole post, start to finish, took me 12 minutes.)

4.

I need to read more poetry; more rich, good fiction; more rich, good nonfiction. I’ve read a lot of nonfiction in the last five years, but I wouldn’t call most of it rich. Most of it—most of my seminary reading, that is—was just okay; very little of it engaged deeply with thought critical of its own perspective. (Major exceptions: David Koyzis’ really excellent Political Visions and Illusions, Alvin Plantinga’s Where the Conflict Really Lies, and of course St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation.)

But I find that my own writing is far sharper, clearer, and better when I’m drawing widely and from deep wells. Widely, because I find that too much time in the same spot overly narrows my focus, whether that is apologetics or programming languages. From deep wells because, frankly, there is too much out there which warrants nothing more than a skim at most.


And that is all!