On my Daily Reading List, last week, several of the Big Dogs were talking about the problem of blog plageurization.
Since I often write on topics that have been covered by others – and since I write mostly for myself (writing about something really helps me solidify it for myself) – I should tell you something:
If you see me writing about a topic that has recently been covered by these other guys, and especially if that post of mine seems very similar to a post of theirs, it is because I am “distilling” it.
One thing that I feel I am really pretty good at is taking a technical subject presented in a really technical way, and then distilling the geek factor out of it, leaving a more plain, laymen’s rendition. I will sometimes go as far as to “rewrite the whole article in my own words”. But if I do that, I always tell you I’m doing that, and I will always provide the link to the original material. In fact, I’m about to do that in the next few days with one particular article on Table Partitioning.
By rewriting it first as “this is what I heard you say“, and then rewriting it again as “this is all I really care about“, I usually end up with a really useful “checklist” approach to getting something done, or a very simple description of the concept that I can actually work with.
I do the same thing with code. When I have a problem, and I’m googling for code examples, usually what I find is a code snippet that’s about 90% what I do not need, and maybe 10% that I do. All that other 90% is “wrapper”, or “setup”, or “staging” or “preliminary groundwork”, yada yada yada. Sometime’s it’s just plain filler material designed to make it look more technical (in some cases. not all).
I’m really good at eliminating all the fluff and just pulling out that one line (it’s usually one line – or even just one statement or function in a line) that I need. And I’m pretty good at taking a highly technical or academic treatment of a subject, and reducing it to it’s every day workable parts; the stuff most work-a-day DBAs or developers actually care about.
And, also, time and experience has taught me to trust my instincts. If I think “this way”, it’s likely that a lot of other guys are thinking the same, simplistic, pragmatic way. We aren’t all gurus. But some of us speak gurueese and can translate it.
I didn’t invent the compass. But I can figure out how to use it, and I can explain it to others. And maybe one day, I will invent something big. But for now, I’m content to be the Combat DBA, not the Four Star General DBA.
I have a friend who is one of those “guru” types. He can do anything. I always describe the difference between he and I as “He’s more of a strategic thinker than I am. He’s really good at getting the whole, big picture and holding onto it. He can see the project from ‘Point A to Point Z’.
I am more of a tactical thinker. I am extremely talented at finding a way to get from Point A to Point B, no matter how complicated or difficult that may be. And taking the works of those generals and reducing them to combat tactics for close quarters is what I excel at.