This honesty thing has got me thinking. Why write? Why put prototypes online? Why tweet about my feelings or observations? Why bother with any of it?

For finished projects, the answer is fairly simple: I put things out there because I think they're valuable, I want people to appreciate them or I want them to achieve some result in the outside world. But there's a lot of things that don't fall into one of those categories. Some of it I do, not because I have an outcome in mind, or because I want people to see it, or even because I think it's particularly good. Some stuff I do just because I want to.

Writing is like this when I just have something in my head that wants to get out into words. Prototypes are like this when I have something I want to try, some little problem to solve, or just when I feel like causing trouble with my keyboard. When I do things for an audience, I keep the audience in mind. When I do them for myself, I'm only thinking about what suits my needs.

So why bother to put them online at all if they're for me? Well, if I only publish things that are valuable to me, I could be missing a lot that's valuable to others. The classic Twitter criticism is that it's just a bunch of people talking about what they had for breakfast, and who cares? Well, someday there's going to be a breakfastologist who desperately needs to track 21st century cereal trends, and when they find Twitter they're going to fall to their knees and weep with joy. Faced with the immeasurable breadth of human interest, why not publish everything you have, just in case?

That's archivism. Put it all out there and let the future sort it out. Found something interesting? Publish it! Learned something new? Publish it! Working on something? Publish it! Sure, it might seem useless to you, but don't give in to the hubris of thinking that your understanding of uselessness is universal. I guarantee that for every unanswered help thread there's someone who found the answer, but thought it wouldn't be interesting to anyone else.