September 05, 2012, 1:07 PM —
Last week I wrote about whether programmers would benefit from learning how to be creative writers (conclusion: no). Today I’m thinking about whether programmers would benefit from writing a journal - and by “writing” a journal, I mean handwriting a journal. Like with a pen or pencil. On a piece of paper, in a notebook. Using your hands.
This was prompted by a recent posting on GitHub about keeping a written programming journal. Now, there have been good discussions about whether programmers should keep a journal (of any sort) and there seems to be general agreement amongst developers that doing so is a good idea. Keeping track of lessons learned, problems solved, or even just random tips or tricks that may be useful later makes a lot of sense, and not just for programmers, but for anybody, really.
There are any number of digital methods and tools for keeping a journal or taking notes and, certainly, there are lots of good reasons to use one of those methods (convenience, searchability, organization, etc.). However, I’m wondering if there’s an added benefit to doing things like our forefathers did back in 1988, with a pen, pencil or other writing utensil (I’ll exclude typewriters; let’s not get nuts). Does the physical act of writing something down help us to better learn a concept or remember something later on?
The author the GitHub post, sent-hil, found that:
The real value for me, was oddly not looking back at the entries (I rarely do), but writing them down on paper, especially the question or thought.
Some other developers feel similarly: