shelby's notes

study guides I wish I'd had years ago.

why tho?

why take notes?

There are plenty of articles and resources advising software practitioners to take notes, mostly to maintain something to refer back to, but also to make knowledge transfer go more smoothly among teammates.

why not just write blog posts?

While blog posts are organized chronologically first and by topic second, notes on a docs site can be organized by topic in a logical and approachable way.

Also, I feel weird updating old blog posts, even if the post is incorrect. It feels dishonest. Whereas a docs site is meant to be kept up-to-date.

why publish my notes?

There are many things that weren't clear to me when I started looking for software jobs. By sharing my notes, I hope to help speed up the learning process for other early-career folks and anyone breaking into tech.

I've always enjoyed teaching. I kind of have a knack for synthesizing information and explaining things in new ways that help make it click for people. I've been very fortunate in my career--many people have gone to bat for me. This is one way I can pay it forward.

If my notes help just one person get a job that they're excited about, then the effort is worth it.

Also: I'm kinda vain. I regularly reread my old Twitter threads. Seeing my notes in a pretty, published format is super satisfying. Plus this way, I'm much more likely to both review what I've learned, and keep things updated.

why not host my own notes?

I'm trying out GitBook after months of wrangling with Hugo and years of trying out every note-taking and writing app imaginable:

Products like Evernote, Google Docs, and Quip didn't treat online publishing as a first-order feature, and Markdown editors still required additional publishing steps. I could never maintain both regular note-taking cadence and a public-facing notes site. Other apps were just glitchy.

When I maintained private notes for myself, they were disorganized half-written thoughts. I never felt the need to complete those thoughts, because I didn't expect to ever share those notes with anyone. And trying to keep things organized was a nightmare. My Evernote notebooks and tags became a spaghetti mess. The Notes section of my Hugo site was a black hole of yak-shaving. I was spending more time organizing and formatting my notes than writing or updating them.

These experiences taught me that the most important requirements to get my notes out in the world (where they might have a chance at helping people) involved reducing friction as much as possible in two ways: dead-simple publishing, and zero-effort organization. So far, GitBook gives me both of those.