Inspiration struck me tonight, and realized why I blog: I'm backing myself up.
Now stick with me for a moment while I explain this, because there were a number of steps involved in my reaching this conclusion.
When I find myself explaining the difference between "RAM" and "hard disk storage" to someone who doesn't really know computers, I always end up using the metaphor
Computer Memory is Human Memory to help him understand things.
"RAM is like a person's short term working memory he uses when he's actively thinking about something," I tell him. "RAM is that 7+-2 you hear so much about. RAM is where your computer keeps what you're typing until you save the changes, just like short term memory is where your brain keeps what you're thinking about until you make the effort to 'commit it to memory.'"
"Hard disk storage, on the other hand, is like where your brain keeps your memory of your first kiss," I continue. "You have access to it when you want it, and the rest of the time it just sits in your brain until you need it. When you hit 'save,' the hard disk is the memory to which what you typed is committed."
"A person can only think about a few things at once with his short term memory, but by buying more RAM, your computer can think about more things at once. And a person can remember a lot more than he can think about, and by buying a bigger hard disk, your computer can remember a lot more." I explain.
But in Microserfs, a comment is made that "We've reached a critical mass point where the amount of memory we have externalized in books and databases (to name but a few sources) now exceeds the amount of memory contained within our collective biological bodies," and that statement stopped me in my tracks.
In a flash of insight, I turned the metaphor
Computer Memory is Human Memory around, switched Human Memory to Human Knowledge, and ended up with
Human Knowledge is Computer Memory.
Looking at it from that direction, I realized how amazingly volatile and short term all of human memory really is. We don't "save" things to our "long term" memory. Long term memory happens to be a little less volatile than working memory, but both of them will be lost if we crash.
I realized that if I don't externalize myself, then when I "shut down," my unsaved changes will be lost. I blog in order to save me. I'm backing myself up so that once I'm turned off, my data will still live on.
Through the looking glass of
Human Knowledge is Computer Memory, my short term memory becomes registers for my CPU, and maybe a little cache, while my "long term" memory is just my main memory. It's all volatile, though. My blog is my hard disk.
And sprinkling in a little Douglas Adams for good measure, the human species becomes a massively parallel processing computer. Every human experience provides our internal computers with more data that, in combination with data each one of us has acquired by accessing stored human knowledge, produces more data that can be added to the human experience.
But to be part of the human experience, that information has to be saved, by blogging (or other means). Catalogued and indexed in computers, human experience is preserved and available for future generations to build upon, eventually synthesizing the question whose answer is 42.
That last paragraph is awfully human centric, but it's humans who save their changes for later humans to synthesize into still more complex ideas. Like this one.