Random Notes

The public notebook of writer and essayist Scott Nesbitt

Over the 2020 holidays, I stumbled across this very interesting post by someone who's:

noticed a few things over the years and, for whatever they are worth, pass them along to anyone who is interested in starting a blog.

To be honest, I see these as being more guidelines than rules. But pay attention, and take to heart, numbers 1, 4, 9, 10, 11, 15, and 18.

People say and write that a lot. But those words often leave peoples' mouths or get tapped out on a keyboard especially when discussing a tool, an app, or a service. They'll say you should use something else (usually a personal favourite) because It's better that what's being discussed.

But in what way is the other option better? Because it has more features and flash? Because all the cool kids use it? Because that's what the person speaking is used to?

None of that necessarily makes something better. At least not for everyone.

As I've been saying for years, different people use tools differently. Take, for example, Simplenote. It doesn't pack the features of note taking tools like Evernote, but that doesn't make Simplenote a worse choice. Why? Not everyone needs the features that are found in Evernote. Simplenote is enough. For the people who choose to embrace it, Simplenote is better.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking everyone uses hardware, software, tools, apps, and services in the same way that you do. They don't. What's better for you isn't necessarily better for someone else. Besides, the idea of better can be subjective. Very subjective. Remember that before you say something like It's better.

I recently stumbled across a post by software developer Dan Allison which dovetailed with similar thoughts to mine. Allison points out that:

Tools are just a means to an end, but the cultivation of skills in pursuit of mastery of one’s craft is a worthwhile goal in itself.

It's a short post, but it's definitely worth reading the whole thing.

Godin has this to say:

Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts.

And sometimes, even if those thoughts are only partially-formed, you have to click the Publish button.

Steven Ovadia looks at that question and concludes:

Tools aren’t going to get you to your goals, but the way you use them will.

Read the entire post, especially if you find yourself falling into the trap of tool fetishism.

People like putting things, and others, into little boxes. They like categorizing things. They like pigeonholing people. All of that sort of thing. It's easier than thinking, and doesn't disrupt their view of the world.

But rarely does someone fit comfortably into any one category. Life just doesn't work like that. Take music, for example. When I was a teenager, I listened to a lot of thrash metal. Immediately, people assumed that was the only music I was interested in. They didn't realize that I also listened to progressive rock, jazz, blues, classical, Krautrock, and more. When they learned that, dazed and confused was the only way I could describe their reactions.

If people try to pigeonhole you, the problem lies with them and not with you. They refuse to think before they make a judgment. You're not going to change them. Don't try.

How many times have people asked you Why did you buy/choose/do that? Or worse, ask you How could you ... ? Often, they ask those questions in an accusing or exasperated tone.

I can't tell you the number of times I've been bombarded with some variation of those questions. The underlying message is that the person asking the question wants me to justify my choice.

You shouldn't have to do that.

Your choices are your own. You make those choices based on what works for you. If someone doesn't agree with those choices, if they don't mesh with that person's frame/outlook/way of life, then the problem doesn't lie with you.

For better or for worse, we all get trapped (to varying degrees) in our own little bubbles. Sometimes, we can't see outside our little niches. But we shouldn't expect others to be enveloped by our bubbles, to inhabit our niches.

Ignore your critics. Don't feel that you have to follow the crowd. And definitely don't spend time and energy justifying your choices.

Dave Winer on why you're crazy not to use an outliner :

It's just a tool, not a religion, or a cause, it has no mystical properties. It's just useful. Like you use a hammer for some things and a screwdriver for others. It's also easy to use. Text on rails.

Well, crazy is a bit harsh. But he does make some good points. And yes, Dave, I do use one!

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