The death of the technical paper

Have youtube and flickr killed the technial write up?

As a group geeks/hackers/makers do the things we do for two main reasons. One, Because we can, and Two, a chance at our moment in the spotlight.


I have subscribed to Make magazine from day one. For three years now I have been pleasantly surprised to come home from a business trip and find the quarters Make: Magazine at the bottom of a pile of bills. I read each one from back to front, looking for project that I think that I have the time and skills to properly complete. I often get three quarters into the planning phase and have to drop the project for one reason or another. However, I am always ready to start the next. Recently I finished my first Make: inspired project, and even found a way to make it my own. Along the way I made some friends, found a number of new books, resources and gained skills that once felt out of reach. Thank you to all the people who paved the way. I only wish that these resources were available when I was younger.


Having fulfilled the ‘Because I can’ portion of the project, my next step was to complete a technical write up. But why? Well I wish that I could honestly say that it was entirely because I wanted to share my experience, issues, and improvements so that the next potential builder could be inspired and learn from my mistakes. But that’s only 25% of the story. Honestly, I wanted my /. moment. I wanted to be able to look at the site analytics and say, “See here? This is where I got mentioned on xyz blog because they recognized the cool/geek factor of the work that I had done”  

This brings me to the heart of my issue. I see an increasing tendency of people building incredible projects that I am sure entailed hours of debugging, hair pulling and lessons learned.  Often these projects are condensed into 5 minutes of youtube video or 20 images in a flicker pool with little or no technical notation. Don’t get me wrong, a two wheeled balancing robot is not done justice without proper video. But the entire project is sold short without mention of the technical lessons that were learned during its development. A flickr photo pool of something cool encased epoxy is a thing of beauty. However, without taking the time to note the issues and lessons learned it just feels empty.


I can appreciate looking for recognition for the things that you have done. Its totally natural to say ‘Look at this cool thing that I built’. All that I ask is that you pay homage to the people that lead the way and leave a trail for the next guy.

-Leland Sindt