Why I blog

I answered a few questions for Amstat News not too long ago, and the questions were centered around why I, as a stat grad student, take the time to write for FlowingData and why others should give blogging a try. The questions were more from a career standpoint, but it really all comes down to this. It’s fun.

I have fun picking apart designs and playing with data. It’s fun reading comments. It’s fun looking at others’ work. It’s fun learning how to make stuff. It’s fun getting emails from people who were totally scared of numbers, but are now taking stat courses.

People often ask me how much time I spend writing posts, but it’s like asking someone how much he watches TV or plays video games. How many hours have you spent roaming an art gallery?

I’ll let you in on a little secret though. Maintaining a blog doesn’t take as much time as you think. You just need to manage your time wisely. Don’t waste minutes checking stats, tweaking design, etc. Get rid of the extraneous, and you’re just writing in a journal. Doogie Howser wrote every day and he was a doctor and he had a social life. So it must be possible.

Hold on. I think I have a point here.

I guess—if you’re thinking about starting a blog, go for it. I highly encourage it. FlowingData has definitely been a good thing for me. There’s a book on the way, and I’ve been lucky to connect with people and groups I probably never would have been able to otherwise. But don’t just do it because you think it’ll advance your career. Do it because you actually like what you’re doing, and other stuff will follow. It’ll be much more fun that way.

Do you blog? What kind of experience have you had?

P.S. I’m trying something new here. If you have a question, I’ll try to answer it. Send your questions my way to [email protected] with “Ask FlowingData” in the subject.


  • Nice post for aspiring bloggers (like me). Thank you for the good advice.

    Also, congratulations re your book. Wow! The publisher is Wiley! That is very impressive. I look forward to reading it with great anticipation. Please let us know once you know when it will be released.

  • lynnmarentette September 26, 2010 at 5:14 am

    I’m happy to learn about your book!

    Blogging is a great form of digital journaling- it has helped me keep up with the rapid changes in technology since I started in 2006.

    I was required to start a blog for one of my graduate classes. I never imagined that it would become such an interesting and rewarding “pastime”.

  • Nice post! I myself am just breaking in to data/viz/design, and find this blog a great resource to help wrap my mind around the concepts and array of work out there.

    Your efforts are much appreciated. I’ve got my eye out for ways I can contribute and keep the ball moving forward….


  • A blog is a medium for sharing one’s passion with like-minded readers. Every post is an opportunity to deepen one’s understanding and practice of his craft: to express ideas to others requires and enforces clarity. As a side effect of sharing, one builds a personal brand.

    On a related note, how do you recommend promoting blog posts, so that interested readers can actually find them in the deluge of Internet content?

    • Hm, I’m probably not a good person to ask. It kind of happened for me by itself, and because I was never in any rush to increase traffic, I never did any promotion, etc. I think if you’re providing that people think is interesting, then they’ll share it, and the blog grows organically from there.