The other day I encountered a concept on Ajay Ohri's Decision Stats blog that made me reflect on what I, personally, gain from blogging. The concept is the Johari window, which is a self-assessment technique in cognitive psychology. The following image is taken from Peter Dorrington's article about "unknown unknowns and risk":
By looking at the Johari window, I realized that blogging helps me to become more aware of what I know and what I don't know. The Johari window framework also summarizes the process that I use to write this blog. Long-time readers know that I post three articles a week according to the following schedule:
- On Mondays, I post Getting Started articles. These articles correspond to the upper right quadrant of my Johari window. They represent topics that I know that I know. I exploit this knowledge to get out a quick article that requires minimal effort.
- On Wednesdays, I post articles on a variety of topics in statistical programming such as sampling and simulation and efficient SAS programming. These articles often correspond to the lower left quadrant of my Johari window. They represent topics that I am trying to learn. Usually, I am not an expert on these topics, so I risk making a fool of myself. However, blogging gives me an opportunity to share what little I know and it motivates me to get it right. I often experiment with several approaches before I feature one in my blog.
- On Fridays, I like to post articles about data analysis. These articles correspond to the upper left quadrant of my Johari window. They are often inspired by reading other blogs or by having a robust curiosity about topics such as "What Topics Appear in The Far Side Cartoons?" Even after I explore the data and blog about it, I am aware that there is more that could be said.
What about the lower right quadrant? That comes into play when I am searching for something to blog about. In the past 15 years, I've written and saved thousands of SAS and SAS/IML programs, demos, examples, test programs, presentations, and papers. These are scattered in dozens of directories on my computer. Sometimes I'll stumble upon a program I wrote ten years ago and think, "That's pretty clever; I should write a blog about this!" My challenge is to find these gems that I have forgotten about—to rediscover and expose what I once knew.
My goal is to become the best statistical programmer and data analyst that I can be, and to help other SAS programmers do the same. Blogging helps by making me keenly aware of what I know and what I don't know.