On content creators

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I don't consume much developer content. I'll read blog posts now and again when they pop up on Twitter, but it's not something I seek out. That's especially true for video content and podcasts.

There are a few exceptions, and in response to a shower thought I had a few days ago, I'd like to explore what makes those exceptions stick out to me. For the purposes of doing so, let's create two very overly-simplified categories of content creators:

  1. Explorers (learn in public)
  2. Authorities (broadcast opinions)

I have a bias toward the former. The first tech blogger I remember following was Chris Coyier. Before I knew about Codepen and CSS Tricks, Chris popped on my radar as I started going to WordPress conferences back when dinosaurs roamed the earth around 2011 or so. We were running in similar circles at the time, though I wouldn't formally meet him until just last year. At any rate, people I knew spoke highly of him. I eventually found his blog.

There were a few themes I noticed.

First, Chris liked to post…pretty much whatever was on his mind. Not all of it was tech content. Not all of it particularly interesting if you weren't Chris. But what he wrote was always engaging or amusing in some way.

Second, he was tinkering, exploring, and sharing things he found interesting along the way. I can't remember a single post where he evangelized a particular technology. He just liked to build things and put stuff he learned along the way on the internet (clearly a solid business strategy, too).

To this day, many of my favorite blog articles, videos and conference talks can be traced back to Chris. He happens to be a great communicator, but it's his curiosity and explorative nature that I find most compelling.

And then there are the authorities.

There seems to be a decent-sized market for folks who tell you what you should do. What tech you should use or avoid. How you should structure your code.

This isn't to say having strong opinions is bad! Anyone who knows me will tell you: I have plenty. And I don't mind talking with folks about them and hearing alternate views. But there's something about the anonymity of the internet that makes hot takes and the like a bit unpalatable. Without some established goodwill and trust, I just…don't really care. If anything I'm probably a bit more suspicious.

Look, I don't kink shame you for your content preferences. And it's not a binary world out there. Lots of talented folks can tell you what they think and deeply explore their reasoning with an open mindset. I just think this is a useful filter for me. The content I consume shapes my own approach to the world, and I'd rather be an explorer.

I still dig Chris's work. A few other curious minds I try to keep up with are: