Sunday, August 20, 2017

Best Book on Technical Blogging

The medium is the message.
~ Marshall McLuhan (
In 
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man)
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and statesman
I've been searchin'
So long
To find an answer
...
Good things
In life
Take a long time
yeah yeah
~ Chicago (
Lyrics from 
(I've Been) Searchin' So Long)
Let me count the ways.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning (From Sonnet 43) 

I'll begin with a starkly honest acknowledgment: Everything that I know about bloggingI mean literally everythingI learned from an amazing book which I will be introducing shortly. But I need to backtrack just a bit to set the stage. You may have glanced at the Goethe quote atop this essay; it got me thinking to yet another observation of his, one that I seek to remain mindful of, as best as I can. Goethe had noted, elsewhere, that
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
And this precise theme is what compelled me to drop all plans this weekend—and weekends are pretty much the only time when I write essays to post to my blogfor gathering thoughts and jotting down what was going to be a hard-core, software-centric essay. Instead, I knew it was time for me to share with my readers the very best guidance there is on the subject of technical blogging. Okay, enough of the cloak-and-dagger πŸ”ͺπŸŽ©πŸŒ‚

With that, I will now try doing some justice in expressing the profound debt I owe to a remarkable book entitled Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence. I believe it is available at Amazon and also available at The Pragmatic Bookshelf. This fine book is by serial blogger extraordinaire Antonio Cangiano. Frankly, the biggest challenge at the moment has me thinking to the words—which you may have noted atop this essayof one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era, Elizabeth Barrett Browning ("Let me count the ways") ⛏

But we won't allow perfect to be the enemy of good, will we? πŸ™‰ So let's have at it... In no particular order, what follow are the central themes that have made Antonio's Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence stand out, head and shoulders above others, and helped me immensely. Yes, without the shadow of a doubt, Technical Blogging has had a tremendously positive impact on increasing the effectiveness of my blogging! 

Much as I said earlier, everything that I know about bloggingI learned from Technical Blogging. I can't recall even a single occasion when I felt the need to consult any other book—or online resource for that matter—for advice on putting together the very best blog that I'm capable of. This book has everything covered: From selecting the theme of the blog, the style of blogging, the technical details of choosing your blogging platform, promotion, even making some money. I have to confess, though, in connection with the last point, that I write purely from my passion for sharing with others what I know, and what I continue to learn, in our protean software development industry. There is, I hasten to add for those so inclined, absolutely nothing wrong with monetizing your blog; after all, we've all heard countless times how
The business of America is businessπŸ’°
For the sake of accuracy—an ever-abiding concern of mine in the service of my readerswhat Calvin Coolidge (the 30th President of the United States) actually said was that "The chief business of the American people is business". So there πŸ˜‡

In sum, and speaking a bit more to the sheer volume of actionable advice on anything and everything related to (technical) blogging, Technical Blogging simply can't be beat; the more I have read this remarkably high quality book over the past several years, the more the hunch was confirmed that my search for the finest book ever on technical blogging had come to a conclusive end ⛳


As my life goes on I believe
Somehow something's changed
Something deep inside
Ooh a part of me
There's a strange new light in my eyes
Things I've never known
Changin' my life
Changin' me
I've been searchin'
So long
To find an answer
...
Good things
In life
Take a long time
yeah yeah
~ Chicago (Lyrics from (I've Been) Searchin' So Long)

Next up, to use the notion of SNR—the much vaunted Signal-to-Noise Ratio of which all engineers get disabused at one time or another during their professional training—this masterpiece has practically zero fluff. It's all good stuff ♨ In my mind, this book will easily still be around for another decade, serving as a rich source of insights into what really makes blogging tick; no doubt, technologies will come and go, as they have in the past. However, Technical Blogging has enduring ideas, which you will simply not find elsewhere.

Antonio's precept of "Content is king" continues to deeply resonate with me to this day; FWIW, I'll add that I began blogging three years ago, with this fine book lying open at my side, through it all. Speaking of the aforementioned notion that "Content is king"—which is IMHO really the killer idea of bloggingI have done my level best to pay tribute elsewhere to the equally immense debt of gratitude I owe to another singularly awesome book. Of the more-than-a-handful of books I've read on the art of writing, by far the one which has had the greatest impact on my own writing is entitled Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, by John Trimble with The University of Texas & Austin. Having a laser-sharp focus on crafting content of the highest quality is vital. This focus remains, as always, my compass in everything that I put together for my readers; much as I said earlier, everything that I write for this blog, I do so purely from the passion for sharing with others what I know, and what I continue to learn from immersion in our exciting and ever-in-flux software development industry πŸΎ

I had noted elsewhere my sentiment about how
If you take away from this essay only one book, please make it Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing by John R. Trimble. I refer to the volume fondly as WWS. My writing life can be cleanly divided—much as the World Wars (WW) divided history into pre- and post-WW—into pre- and post-WWS πŸš‘
And I stand by every single impression, conspicuously including the preceding one, and others, regarding the delineation of my writing life, which I had shared elsewhere in paying tribute to that other gem of a book. Regarding the book we're pursuing in this essayTechnical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence—the need for a similar delineation (in my blogging life) never arose, simply because I had the great good fortune of starting my blogging life with this trusty guide and constant companion during all my canters and gallops through the terrain of effectively sharing with you all that I write as I grapple with the dual processes of discovery and formulation 🐎


The sheer amount of high quality material in this book borders on the overwhelming, in a very good way. On this note, I have another confession to make: To date, I have tapped into perhaps only a small fraction of the copious advice that is to be found in the pages of Technical Blogging. Then again, I'm in no hurry, and my learnings from this fine book continue. By the same token, there is a ton of great advice in there that you should avail of at your own cadence ✅

To pick just one example, it was only recently—one weekend ago from the current weekend in fact—that I posted a mention of my blog to Reddit. And wow, as a first-time user of that social forum, I was pleasantly astonished by the overwhelmingly warm response I got from readers in Reddit! Evidently, it's time to explore some more πŸ˜‰

Johanna Rothman, consultant and author of Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects, has perhaps summed it up the best in sharing her experience of and estimation of the value of Technical Blogging when she noted how
I felt as if Antonio were my own private consultant helping me every step of the way, updating and crafting my blogs for maximum value. I will be reading and rereading this book every few months to make sure I haven’t missed anything. If you blog, read this book. If you’re considering blogging, read this book. Do not let a day go by without reading this book.
Well said, Ms. Rothman 😎 I can tell you in full candor, dear reader, that my copy of Technical Blogging is lit up with highlighter marks, not to mention the tape flags, which you might have noticed cropping up in the pic atop this essay. And it is not a random decision that I chose to have Technical Blogging be flanked on each side by two other classics from the same publishing company (The Pragmatic Bookshelf). In fact, the book that started it all, i.e. the series of books in the The Pragmatic Bookshelf—as best as I recall—is the spectacularly influential The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, which you'll see proudly flanking Technical Blogging in that pic 🎬

In the end, I can say without reservation that serial blogger extraordinaire Antonio Cangiano has shared in the pages of the book Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence stellar advice that you will simply not find anywhere else—our industry is lucky to have individuals like him. I eagerly look forward to his next books. 

And since I had earlier mentioned on a personal note that I write purely from my passion for sharing with others what I know, and what I continue to learn, I'll close on a personal note as well: My late father—it will be two years on September 1st since he passed away—was a chemical engineer by profession, and he imbued me deeply with pragmatism. At times, and especially lately, I simply haven't been able to help but think to and reminisce about how proud he would be to hear about the vibrant blog that this has become, directly as a result of the participation and involvement of readers like you πŸ† 

My better half—she is a big fan of Mother Teresa and doing charitable work—has leavened my pragmatism by imbuing me with the primacy of humbleness, and helping everyone around us grow and blossom (I know this sounds old fashioned). In turn, I remain truly humbled by what my coworkers (both past and present) have written about working with me ⏳

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