I've been blogging consistently for over a year now and one thing that has repeatedly came up during this time is to treat your blog as a 'by-product', something that naturally emerges from the work you do. It's been an idea I've never really understood, surely blogging is an active engagement? You come up with an idea to discuss, sit down, and write about it? Such was my understanding anyway.
Recently the opportunity emerged for me to research a topic of my choosing, to really get to grips with an issue that had been on my radar. Given my previous interest in Security and Human-Computer Interaction I decided to examine a topic that sits at the intersection of both (Future posts inbound).
Seeing this research opportunity as a chance to experiment I thought I'd apply the 'by-product' approach for the week. Instead of jotting down notes and such as I went, I'd write with a blog post in mind. I didn't have a grand theory or goal in mind with this experiment, simply just to see if a new approach to writing and research might be of benefit in one way or another.
So for the next week I spent it researching and writing as I went. However instead of jotting down fragmented notes or scribbles, I wrote with the end blog post in mind. Instead of individual sentences and references, I focused on constructing connected paragraphs around a given topic.
So after a week of intense research things look to be positive. I found working in this manner helped me solidify concepts and promoted further exploration - and I got a neat blog post out of it in the process. It's certainly something I'll continue to dabble with going forward as the gains seem considerable. The act of writing towards a specific goal (a blog post) seems to help in ensuring concepts are sufficiently expanded upon so that the end-reader can quickly get to grips with the topic of discussion while also ensuring for myself that some important component isn't lost in a sea of disconnected notes when it comes to reviewal later.
So overall the experiment looks to be a success I'm happy to report, blogging as a by-product has helped speed up my writing process, improve my research skills, and offered a better means of looking back on past work.