Write Prose, not just Programs

Puneeth Chaganti (~punchagan)




'Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.' — Harold Abelson.

I believe, as programmers a bulk of our work is to communicate ideas, either in the form of code or as words in a human language to other people. For me, writing is not just a tool to communicate ideas I understand, but often a way to even generate new ideas. Writing forces me to think clearly, and helps solidify ideas or learnings that are vague.

In the current pandemic situation, where most of us are working remotely, writing becomes an even more important tool for communication. I hope this talk would get the audience to think about their writing and may be persuade some of you to write more often, and more deliberately.

In this talk, I would like to talk about the following things:

  • Motivate the importance of writing for programmers, based on personal (or other) anecdotes: 6 minutes

    • Bedrock of remote work
    • Clarifies thinking
    • Better communication, better programmers
  • Discuss some of the benefits of having a public blog, that is somewhat active: 8 minutes

    • Body of work
    • Joy of helping people
    • Learn by teaching
    • Learn from interesting conversations
  • Some tips for being able to write regularly: 10 minutes

    • Make writing a part of your workflow
    • Reduce friction to write
    • Write to test understanding, write about what you are learning
    • Set aside time to write
    • Write for a single person audience
    • Read!

I also enjoy reading content written by other programmers, and I hope that this talk persuades more of you to write about your lives, personal or professional.


Just an open mind :)

Video URL:


Content URLs:

Slides from a few months ago, when I gave a version of this talk are here. [Use n or Page Down to navigate the slides]

Speaker Info:

I have been programming in Python for over a decade, and have a blog that's been moderately active for 14 years or so. I have been working remotely for the past 4 years, with people in a couple of different time zones. Writing is key to be able to get work done effectively, in this setup. I have also been participating in a weekly writing club with some friends for about a couple of years now, in an effort to get better at writing and communicating. I have been thinking about how writing has helped me and people I know, for a while now, and I'd like to share my thoughts in this talk.

Speaker Links:

Section: Culture and society
Type: Talks
Target Audience: Beginner
Last Updated: