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The Butterfly Effect of Having a Technical Blog for 9+ Years

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While reflecting on a recent opportunity I thought about some of the interesting things that presented itself through this blog.

Quick Jump: Video Post

Prefer video? Here it is on YouTube.

In 2015 I decided to start a technical blog and also create video courses while doing my usual contract work. I post something new once a week.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the butterfly effect. In case that phrase is new to you, it basically means a small action taken right now can produce a large change at some point in the future.

Here’s some of the more interesting ones that were related to writing 1 specific blog post about Docker, Flask and other programming related topics.

I say “1 specific” because in a number of cases folks have reached out to me and said they discovered one of my posts and then a relationship formed from that. In other cases, folks have casually mentioned they followed my work in general and that led to something else.

  • Traveling with Tech Field Day twice from New York to California
    • The organization owner (Stephen Foskett) reached out saying he followed what I was writing about and asked if I wanted to go
    • This led to all sorts of life experiences, such as:
      • Traveling to CA
      • Visiting SETI’s headquarters and getting a tour from Seth Shostak
      • Visiting Docker’s headquarters in SF (this was back in 2018)
      • Doing an escape room
      • Meeting with like minded folks and keeping some of those connections
  • Assorted contract and full time work
    • There’s too many to individually list but a general takeaway is someone read a specific post, reached out and then we worked together
    • There’s been quite a few long term multi-year contracts (10-20 hours a week, etc.)
    • I’ve met with a few folks in person when they were traveling near NY to have lunch and hang out
      • I’m still in contact with a bunch of previous clients
    • Free pizza for life after getting introduced to a local business owner
      • Learning more about how physical sales and their processes work was eye-opening and shaped how I think about certain problems now
    • Connections with a bunch of professionals in their industry (doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, plumbers, etc.)
      • These things have been really positive, having any of these folks directly available can save you a lot of time and money
        • This isn’t always about getting free services too, it’s about having access to ask a lawyer or doctor for their opinion on something – they may do it for free if it’s a quick chat but it’s not about the money
    • One of the Flask posts led to doing contract work with a company for 3 years and they invited me to work full time
      • It’s doing similar things that I was already doing with them but quite a lot more involvement with the company
      • I never worked a full time job prior to this, I learned and am still learning a ton around that
      • They invited me to India to meet some of their international remote teams, I’m still on the fence about taking that trip
  • Involvement with Docker
    • Invited to the Docker Captain’s program in 2016 after they read a number of my blog posts
    • A number of friendships
    • Going to a bunch of local meetups in NYC
    • Invited to a Docker Captain’s summit in Lisbon, Portugal
      • This turned into planning a 2 week solo Portugal and south western Spain trip with ~5 weeks notice and I never left the US before
        • Technically this trip is a few weeks away from the time I’m writing this but I’m pre-writing it now because I don’t want to break my weekly streak so I’ll publish this while I’m traveling
          • If you’re reading this, I was at least alive on the day of this post at some point during the trip!

There’s a whole bunch of other things I didn’t list here like starting and stopping a podcast.

I’m also skipping hundreds of small but interesting interactions like:

  • Taking the train to NYC to visit a co-worker when they were in town and while boarding the train someone from Lebanon doing their PhD in theoretical physics mixed with quantum computing asked me if this is the correct train. Out of no where a 90 minute conversation ensued around programming, life in different countries and a bunch of other assorted topics

These are all fun life experiences that started with a blog post.

It still boggles my mind that these things were kicked off from spending an hour or 2 or 3 writing about something I already enjoy doing. Sometimes it feels like cheating to enjoy what you’re doing, continuously learn, getting paid a reasonable amount and having very interesting things thrown your way from time to time.

I’m certainly not famous or have any real credit and I definitely haven’t “made it”. I’m just a dude who shows up every week to write about stuff that was interesting to me while ignoring the algorithm. Not a single video I ever put on YouTube or tweeted went viral and none of my videos are monetized.

I don’t have a plan for any of this. I brain dump ideas as they come and flesh them out based on what I’m up to. If folks read or watch anything, I’m happy to have helped and very much appreciate it. If not, that’s ok I’m going to continue what I’m doing.

Is it worth it? For me yes, but for you it may depend on your priorities. If I focused on nothing but paid contract or full time employee work and didn’t invest thousands of hours into openly sharing things I would be better off financially (it’s not even close), but money isn’t always a driving factor.

I don’t care about fame or money. Some people want to play the trumpet in an orchestra or become an astronaut. I like learning new things and solving problems. Materializing what I learn in a blog post or video is a good way for me to organize my thoughts to digest what I’ve learned. Being able to help others is a really nice bonus perk which makes it doubly worth it.

It’s the least I can do from using and benefiting so much from the open source community.

My only regret is life doesn’t last 100,000 years. I barely feel like I scratched the surface on what I want to learn and explore. I suppose that’s one of life’s blessings and curses.

The video below goes over this blog post and adds a bit more detail in some spots.

Video Post

Timestamps

  • 0:48 – What is the butterfly effect?
  • 1:32 – Tech Field Day
  • 2:23 – Assorted contract work
  • 4:57 – Involvement with Docker
  • 5:58 – Lots of other things too
  • 6:48 – It sometimes feels like cheating
  • 7:35 – Is it worth it?

What are some of your butterfly effect outcomes? Let me know below.

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