During a conversation I was having with Nirvdrum about blog posts, we got to discussing the validity and credibility of blog posting along with how and why people do it. I have a few thoughts on this topic.
The first and foremost reason that I write blog posts is that engineers who spend a lot of time figuring things out on the fly could use a helping hand. A lot of that figuring is done piecing together parts of other people’s solutions to problems from various blogs and papers. Every time I run into an issue or fix a problem, I try to write a blog post about it. I don’t do this because I feel that I have more to offer than anyone else, I just feel like my work should be able to benefit others (there is no use in reinventing the wheel). And to top it off, if I do something and someone has a better way, I like hearing about it in the comments or from an email.
My personal preference when writing blog posts is when possible, short and sweet. Just do what you’re going to do, explain when necessary, but convey the idea and intention. If something needs substantiation, context, or proof then give it. Don’t just say something like, “writing your query like XXX will speed it up by 100ms” without context. I wrote a lot of queries, that run in hours; 100ms won’t mean anything to me. I also am not a huge fan of academic papers or pure blue sky optimistic benchmarks. Now that’s not to say that those papers don’t have their place, but in reality, most situations aren’t blue sky with unlimited budget and all hardware being equal.
Nirvdrum prefers academic papers with lots of peer review and benchmarks. Those types of things are great for theory, but in practice, implementing in such circumstances is not the norm. I typically lump white papers into that group as they tend to be slightly biased towards the companies that prepare them. White papers are great for ideas for solutions, but I think the real nitty gritty lies in finding the right blog post or posts to help you find your solution.