Essays


Send to Kindle

What is the ideal cycle of doing and documenting?

Yesterday, I had a sudden idea of making a telepresence robot using an old Roomba. It's not a new idea. People have done it in several ways. But I want to design it better for a practical use and ease of development. I was thinking how to achieve it last night. This morning, I decided to write the current plan around it and make my writings public although the project is still an ideation phase. I will plan to edit this document as my project evolves.

I like to share my findings in the life with people who are interested in. Whatever I do - research, engineering, hobby projects, or even cooking - only way to share is to talk (in person) unless I document. Talking one person at at time is a slow process of spreading idea, and over the time, I will probably forget the details of how I did things. I need some kind of documentation whether it is writings or audio/video recording, for others to see, and also for my future reference.

Thoughts are seldom straight lines at the beginning. If I have to type out all the random walks of thoughts, it is disruptive to the thinking itself...But if I wait until the project completely finishes, I may not be motivated to replay what I did in my head just to write them down.

There is one big problem with documentation: It is hard to find the right time to do so. Thoughts are seldom straight lines at the beginning. If I have to type out all the random walks of thoughts, it is disruptive to the thinking itself. It is even more difficult to write when I am doing things as my hands are tied. But if I wait until the project completely finishes, I may not be motivated to replay what I did in my head just to write them down. Describing how I did a while ago in details is not as fun as doing new things.

For me, it is easier to casually write several paragraphs to summarize what I have done in an email to somebody than formally writing the whole story on a blank word-processor screen. Blogging sits somewhere in between fragment and complete writings. It seem to be a good trade off between the completeness of the documentation and keeping the challenge easy. Whenever I am at a good stopping point in the tasks, I'd take a break from doing, and write up a paragraph or two.

The new idea is to keep editing on the same blog post instead of posting new ones on the same topic. That way, when I complete the project, I'd have a complete document instead of fragmented posts.

I am trying this idea and therefore the post about the telepresence robot project. Let's see how it turns out.

Original post: March 28, 2014 | Last updated: Nov. 24, 2014

Previous: Do I regret that I spent 4.5 years for a Ph.D.?
Next: The tools I use for reading and sharing
Read more

comments powered by Disqus