Saturday, February 25, 2023

Why Write?

I shared yet another post on writing recently; I say "yet another" because I've published blog posts on the topic of "writing" several times. But something I haven't really discussed is why should we write, nor what we should write about?

In his book, Call Sign Chaos, Jim Mattis said, "If you haven't read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren't broad enough to sustain you." While this is true for the warfighter, it is equally (and profoundly) true for other professions, and there's something else to the quote that's not as obvious. It's predicated on other professionals writing. In his book, Mattis described his reading as he moved into a theatre of operations, going back through history to learn what challenges previous commanders had faced, what they'd attempted to overcome those challenges, and what they'd learned.

While the focus of his book was on reading and professional development/preparation, the underlying "truth" is that someone...a previous commander, a historian, an analyst, someone...needs to write. This is what we need more of in cybersecurity...yes, there are books available, and lists available online, but what's missing is the real value, going beyond simple lists and instructions, to the how and the why, and perhaps more importantly, to what was learned.

So, if you are interested in developing content, what are some things you can write about? Here are some ideas...

Book Reviews
With all of the books that are out there that cover topics in DFIR, one of the few things we see are book reviews.

A book review is not a listing of the chapters and what each chapter contains.

What I mean by a book review is how you found it; was it well written, easy to follow? Was there something that could have made it better, perhaps more valuable, and if so, what was it? What impact did the contents have on your daily work? Is there something you'd like to see; perhaps a deeper explanation, more screen captures, maybe exercises at the end of sections or chapters would be beneficial? 

And, if you found something that could be improved, maybe make clear, explicit recommendations. I've seen where folks have asked for "more screen captures" without saying of what, nor for what reason (i.e, what would be the goal or impact of doing so). 

Conference Talks
Many times, particularly during 'conference season', we'll see messages on social media along the lines of "so-and-so is about to go on stage...", or we'll see a picture of someone on a stage, with the message, "so-and-so talking about this-and-that...", but what we don't see is commentary about what was said. So we know a person is going to talk about something, or did talk about something, but we know little beyond that, like how did what they say impact the listener/attendee? This is a great way to develop and share content, and is similar to book about how what you heard (or read) impacted you, or impacted your approach to analysis.

General Engagement 
Speaking of social media, this is a great way to get started with the habit of writing...articulate your thoughts regarding something you see, rather than just clicking "Like", or some other button offered by the platform. 

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