My Top Five Technology Blogs

Two of these you probably don’t read, but should; one you probably do read, but wrong; and another couple you may have passed by.

All have the common thread of touching on technology which interests me, and that they often talk about the wider industry and world rather than purely the technology itself.

  1. Tim Bray’s Ongoing

Far and away my most consistently subscribed to weblog; I’m not sure if it’s ever left my feedreader du jure. To give an example, recently Tim referenced a post from 2004, which I remember being excited about the day it was written. Tim posts the right mixture of technology and tidbits to retain my engagement week after week, month after month.

That he works in and amongst several things I care deeply about— the web, concurrency, dynamic languages and hard technology problems —aids his case, of course. But that he is insightful, opinionated, linker to fantastic pieces, a great photographer and a clear writer lift him above the flock.

  1. Daring Fireball

Daring Fireball is unique in that I’ve never subscribed to John Gruber’s RSS feed. I treat Daring Fireball as a magazine, each visit bringing an hours reading with it. I tend to visit once or twice a week, so I can spend the time the links and articles deserve.

Like Ongoing, I’ve been reading Daring Fireball for a number of years. Four years ago, when John announced he was going to start an experiment to see if people were willing to support Daring Fireball with their own money, I bought a t-shirt; I like his writing that much. Though the t-shirt is lost, the site still goes on.

John is a biased commentator, which jars one sometimes, and is unique in this list for being (currently) a pure commentator. If it were not for my liking of all things Mac, I may have moved on. In spite of this, Daring Fireball remains the best place to get erudite, witty and often insightful mac-centred comment and analysis.

  1. Freedom to Tinker

Freedom to Tinker discusses questions of technology which touch on security and public policy, such as the crapness of many electronic voting systems and the tactics companies use to hide rather than fix flaws in their products. The writers deploy the written word well in support of their findings and viewpoints.

The public policy slant strikes a nerve with me, as I feel policy makers fall foul of lobbying in the technology sphere all too often. The discussions of DRM in particular highlight the absurdity of the technology and its snake-oil salesmen. Freedom to Tinker keeps me up to date where policy and technology cross. It is US-centric, but I’ve yet to find a UK equivalent; links welcome.

  1. Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror

I don’t want to appear to have too large an ego, but there are few things Jeff discusses which are new to me. The reason he remains on my feed list is he reminds me of things; things I shouldn’t forget, but often do in the thick of coding. His posts also provide useful lay-coder explanations of why certain tools should be used; great for sending as links.

The more esoteric articles are my favourites, such as the one about monitor technologies, and those on core programming practices, like source control, build processes and code style.

Coding Horror is a coding blog through and through, and its daily prodding keeps me on the straight and narrow.

  1. Joel on Software

So. Joel on Software. I was unsure of whether to include it on my list, but it has obstinately remained in my feed reader for a long time, so I guess I should mention it.

Though it inspires worryingly unquestioning obedience from a generation of programmers1, Joel’s early work was very good. It’s tailed off lately, as managing his software firm undoubtedly becomes more difficult, but the library of past articles is a must read for any programmer. Just take them with a pinch of salt: remember they are opinion pieces. Aside from the twelve points of the Joel Test, however; those points really are important.

This site remains in my feed subscription list for the now rare gem it produces. And, of course, so I’m primed for a spirited discussion with one of those unquestioning acolytes.

1 of the form, “Joel says…., so it must be true”.

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