Julia Evans

Taking a year to explain computer things

I’ve been working on explaining computer things I’m learning on this blog for 6 years. I wrote one of my first posts, what does a shell even do? on Sept 30, 2013. Since then, I’ve written 11 zines, 370,000 words on this blog, and given 20 or so talks. So it seems like I like explaining things a lot.

tl;dr: I’m going to work on explaining computer things for a year

Here’s the exciting news: I left my job a month ago and my plan is to spend the next year working on explaining computer things!

As for why I’m doing this – I was talking through some reasons with my friend Mat last night and he said “well, sometimes there are things you just feel compelled to do”. I think that’s all there is to it :)

what does “explain computer things” mean?

I’m planning to:

  1. write some more zines (maybe I can write 10 zines in a year? we’ll see! I want to tackle both general-interest and slightly more niche topics, we’ll see what happens).
  2. work on some more interactive ways to learn things. I learn things best by trying things out and breaking them, so I want to see if I can facilitate that a little bit for other people. I started a project around this in May which has been on the backburner for a bit but which I’m excited about. Hopefully I’ll release it soon and then you can try it out and tell me what you think!

I say “a year” because I think I have at least a year’s worth of ideas and I can’t predict how I’ll feel after doing this for a year.

how: run a business

I started a corporation almost exactly a year ago, and I’m planning to keep running my explaining-things efforts as a business. This business has been making more than I made in my first programming job (that is, definitely enough money to live on!), which has been really surprising and great (thank you!).

some parameters of the business:

  • I’m not planning to hire employees or anything, it’ll just be me and some (awesome) freelancers. The biggest change I have in mind is that I’m hoping to find a freelance editor to help me with editing.
  • I also don’t have any specific plans for world domination or to work 80-hour weeks. I’m just going to make zines & things that explain computer concepts and sell them on the internet, like I’ve been doing.
  • No commissions or consulting work, just building ideas I have

It’s been pretty interesting to learn more about running a small business and so far I like it more than I thought I would. (except for taxes, which I like exactly as much as I thought I would)

that’s all!

I’m excited to keep making explanations of computer things and to have more time to do it. This blog might change a bit away from “here’s what I’m learning at work these days” and towards “here are attempts at explaining things that I mostly already know”. It’ll be different! We’ll see how it goes!

New zine: HTTP: Learn your browser's language! Notes on building SQL exercises