2022-11-19

About these papers

I am one of those people who choose to publish their ideas on a blog. 

The practical reason behind doing this is so that in a conversation I can refer my interlocutor to a text which elucidates my points better than I could conversationally. Admittedly, the opportunity to do this does not arise as often as I wish it did, and even when it does happen, about half the time the interlocutor appears to be reluctant to go and actually read the post, so let's just say that I publish my ideas mainly because I like doing it. 

There is an adage which says It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. (Quote Investigator)  When you publish your ideas, you are making them available for scrutiny, so you are running the danger that the tiniest mistake will be discovered, (or that the slightest semantic discord will cause something to be interpreted as a mistake,) and thus negative opinion will be formed about your person. Furthermore, the negative opinion will be formed in your absence, so you will not be given the opportunity to discuss it and defend yourself.  

Most people do not write about their ideas, so they do not run any risks. I choose to run the risks because for a person who a) has ideas b) is capable of writing about them and c) likes writing, to not write them lest he be thought of as a fool would be cowardice. So, I have no option but to write.

Unpopular ideas greatly exacerbate the problem. Many of my ideas go against established practices and are essentially telling everyone that they are doing everything wrong. The opposite of this is re-iterating established practice: some people like writing for the benefit of those who might be unaware of what the established practices are; I guess there is some usefulness in this, but I could not do it even if you held a gun against my head. For me, in order for some idea to be worth writing, it must be original, or at least not widely known, and most ideas of that kind are at least a bit blasphemous to at least a sizable portion of the population. I am not into writing already known and agreeable stuff.

It goes without saying that everything I write falls under the category of Strong opinions, weakly held. (Coding Horror)  I am an engineer who is passionate about his engineering discipline and about finding ways of advancing it. I am no authority on anything, I am not an expert, I am not some guru holding apocryphal wisdom, so everything I say is subject to revision in light of evidence.

Engineering advances by trying out new things, not by re-iterating old things. "New Things" decidedly means "Not the old things". Plus, you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs. So, if you take an issue with something that I have written, debate it with me; if you find a mistake, point it out to me; you would be doing me a favor.


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