“Why Do You Write and Blog? Why Do You Talk at Conferences?”
After publishing “So what is Voltage, anyway?”, I got a response from Elon Gliksberg, asking why I spend time on blogging and speaking in conferences. I get asked that all the time — so here is my answer.
Meeting Inspiring People, Making Amazing Friends
If you look at my 2017 year summary, you will find there many names of people I met either in conferences or online and have greatly affected my life. A quick example off the top of my head is Alexandre Barachant, who taught me so much about how our Brain works, Neuroscience and Brain-Machine interfaces, and who I truly admire. I was introduced to him after I posted about my experience tinkering with the Muse EEG headset during ng-cruise.
Another example is Shai Reznik, another very good friend and one of the reasons I enjoy doing Live Coding on Stage today (and improvising things in general). I met Shai in tech meetup I organized back in 2013, and we kept in touch since ever.
Learning from Others
Many times, people come to me after a talk and give me new information or ideas. It also happens a lot with my blog posts. For instance, after writing about my adventures in reverse Engineering a Smart WiFi Light Bulb, I got a response pointing out to the specs for the bulb, as well as an SDK that was used to build its firmware, making the reverse engineering effort so much easier.
When I told the story of how I turned my 3D printer into a plotter in one hour, I got many comments from people who did the same, my favorite one being this video:
Earlier this week, I gave a talk in Reversim Summit (which was great, by the way — thanks Ran Tavory and everyone involved). A few minutes after I went off the stage, a guy I never met before approached me and talked for 5 minutes straight, saying that he closely follows my blog posts, and is inspired by the variety of subjects and the out-of-the-box thinking. You can imagine how happy this made me feel.
But it feels even better when you inspire others to take actions, to explore, to make things, to experiment with new technologies and possibilities, and there are so many examples: Tracy Lee | ladyleet who started tinkering with electronics after watching my Angular of Things talk, Jen Looper who did a project with Web Bluetooth and Smart Beacons after she saw my ng-beacons at ng-conf.
The story I find most amazing is about two CS students who attended my Reactive Brain Waves talk. They approached me right after, telling me they wanted to develop their academic thesis based on what they have seen in my talk, and asking me to be their advisor. A few months later, they finished their project — a Chrome extension that allows people with limited mobility to navigate the web with a blink of an eye:
Documenting what I do, Completing Projects
Other than learning from other people who comment on my work and inspiring other people to learn and try new things (which I think are the top benefits), there is another important advantage to blogging — I document what I learned when working on a project, and the exact steps I did.
This forces me to complete projects (like the In-Real Life Chrome T-Rex game we built for the Chrome Dev Summit), to reflect on them and distill what I learned, and also serves as a reference for my future self. I often go back to my earlier posts when I want to remember how I did something in the past, for instance — creating PCB art, optimizing the performance of my embedded Python code, or creating Augmented Reality Experiences with A-Frame.
Being Surprised by How Nice People Can Be
Two days ago, I published the story of how I fried my Espruino board (and then brought it back from the dead). I mentioned in the blog post that I needed this board for my Trumpet Playing Robot, which I intend to present at the Chrome Dev Summit this year.
Not too long after, I got the following message from a reader:
I never met this guy before, yet he offered a backup board in case something fails just before the actual event, and wrote his email address and his phone number to me. Now I will have one less thing to worry about during the event!
Travelling, Unique Conference Experiences
Conferences bring me to new places, and somethings amazing experiences. I will let the photos speak for themselves:
You Can, Too!
I hope this post gave you a good answer why I blog, organize meetups and go to conferences. These are just a few stories out of many, and I learned that the more you go to conferences, the more you know the other speakers and attendees, and then the experiences become even more powerful and meaningful. I feel that blogging and organizing meetups complement that in a way, and I am really grateful for all this being a significant part of my life.
If you liked what you have just read, you can try this too — blog about a project you worked on, something new you learned, share it on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or whatever, and start making connections with like minded people. You can also submit a talk to a conference. If you need help finding one, ping me on Twitter and I will try to help, just like Gil Fink helped me when I started. But that’s a story for another time…