Brainstorming a Plan

Written 2015-11-03 by Len Payne in Learning

I’m going to use this as a bit of a stream-of-consciousness post that will wrap around and collect some of my more useful meanderings into semi-coherent plans.

In short: I’m trying to practice logging/journalling. It’s been a while.

The biggest directions I want to go in are: reading, writing, and video production.

It’s not quite the 3 Rs, but it’s where my head is going these days and I want to follow my brain. Feel free to follow along.


I’ve found great utility out of the kind of curated news feeds that come across my desk. Things like the brief sampling from the O’Reilly Four Short Links by Nat Torkington, and the constant stream of Hacker News, and TechVibes.

I think it would benefit me and my students/readers/audience to continue the tradition and curate some content that I’ve been reading. I regularly use the Hootsuite Chrome extension to share articles easily via Twitter. But I think there would be some use to myself and others to build a weekly curated list of “cool stuff I saw.”

Just another drop in the bucket in most cases, but something of a TL;DR exercise would help me engage more with the material and be a more conscious consumer.


I write a lot of throwaway code in my day job (ie- samples). I even write some useful code now and then (ps- we were approved for another big research fund in August.) But it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything other than Facebook comments/posts, or emails.

I mean, I wrote a novel in 2008. A novel. NaNoWriMo was a cool thing, and I enjoyed it. (No, that novel will never see the light of day.)

So why haven’t I been writing lately? What is getting in the way?

Partly: I’m not sure what to write about. Literally, this post is “I don’t know what I want to say.” In addition to that, I’m at a loss for time. My free hours have been gobbled up either completing work for work, or completing work for fun (and maybe profit.)

But I miss the creative side: the endeavour of putting things to life that had not existed before. I get to do that with coding, to an extent, but there are definitely untapped reaches that I’d like to explore.

So I think that I am going to start a bit of an essay series. I want to warm up.

Ultimately, I want to be able to get my work published to a wider audience. Either in traditional print, or as a contributor on a highly trafficked blog. I want to get the practice and the engagement that only really comes from putting yourself out there.

And then I want to start pumping out textbooks and/or learning materials.

Right now, textbooks target technologies rather than a holistic approach. So for example, you can pick up a jQuery/JavaScript textbook and it covers exactly what you would expect. Or a Hadoop, or Scala, or whatever. I don’t want to build that kind of learning tool. I want to build a tool that guides learners on a more whole-subject approach: for example, instead of covering jQuery from nose to toes, cover a series of examples (and always give alternatives.) Specifically, I’m talking about instead of “How do I build XYZ in JavaScript?” it’s more of a “How do I build XYZ in theory?” with a sample in vanilla JS, jQuery, TypeScript, etc.

I will be building articles/posts/etc with this format in mind. As time allows.

Video Production

Which brings me to video. YouTube is a ridiculously open platform for monetizing content. Make good videos. As you provide a service, then you will see revenue. It’s not a torrent, but it can turn into one. So I want to pair every article with a series of videos demonstrating the skills.

So for example, let’s say I was doing an article on “Building a MEAN App”, I would write the article at a high level (ie- 3-5min read) that covered the “Why” of building the app, and the decision-making process. Then build a series of 3-5min videos that cover the “How” of building the app. (Probably also build a video of me reading the 3-5min article, for those that prefer to watch.)

And you know, MEAN is a good target, but it’s also a saturated market. I’m heavily considering switching my personal development projects to GoLang, and building materials that use Go and Angular in unison. Should be an interesting path to go down. I may even dig into Angular 2.

Summarizing Our Findings

As I mentioned, this was a bit of stream-of-consciousness writing. I genuinely find that writing allows me to slow my mind down and actualize my thoughts. So this is something I hope to do more often. But that means now that I’ve hit a good stopping point, I need to look back and see what I wrote, to summarize things.

I had a realization in the car today. I am not an overly religious man, but I understand the utility of prayer. It helps you to vocalize and actualize your hopes and fears. So let’s call this a little bit of vocalization on my hopes and fears.

I want to:

  1. Begin a weekly “Highlight Reel” style summary of the past week. A tl;dr of this week in the web.
  2. Start writing more. Both this style of journal/log, and more formal articles.
  3. Begin exploring GoLang and Angular2, for personal projects and education.
  4. Develop a series of articles and videos that demonstrate GoLang and Angular2 to the masses.

Wish me luck.