TIL? Today I learnt! - the explainer post

I started posting "TILs" and you might be wondering what they are and why I am posting them.

TIL stands for Today I Learnt. The posts are short summaries of something I learnt.

I learnt about TILs from Simon Willison who picked up the idea from Josh Branchaud. Josh's description of what a TIL is:

A collection of concise write-ups on small things I learn day to day across a variety of languages and technologies.

The reason I started writing TILs is that they are quick to write, contain something useful and are quick to write. Did I mention they are quick to write?

Like most people with a blog I have a lot of half written, half re-written, and half thought through articles that never see the light of day. One mythical day I will have the time to finish them all and hopefully still remember what point they were meant to make and think of a point to make/story to tell with the half thought through posts. However I am not holding my breath that this day will arrive soon.

A TIL has a low barrier to entry when it comes to writing it. Literally write down what you just learnt and what problem you were having that is now solved. By writing it own I create a notebook of the things I learn. This is great because I can refer to it later when I have forgotten how to do something, but remember that I once learnt how to do it. Much better than searching my console log 😀.

A TIL contains an answer to something I did not know. Chances are that if I did not know something, you also do not know. With "you" being "someone else on the internet". This means posting short snippets like this should be helpful for others.

A TIL helps you become better at communicating. At least I hope it will make me better at it. I believe writing is a fantastic way to communicate with others. In particular if you want to communicate with many people, from many backgrounds, living in many places writing is hard to beat as an efficient communication form. And the best way to get better at writing is to write a lot. Which is why the low barrier to entry is great. In addition a TIL is a "concise write-up". Concise writing is harder than long, unfocussed, meandering pages of text that eventually might make a point and contain little nuggets of insight along the way.


I will write TILs about things that I did not learn literally today. This is because sometimes I only find time to write about something I learnt a few days later. In addition I will use the TIL format as a way to reduce my blog post backlog. This means there will be TILs about things I learnt many "todays" ago.

Copyright © 2014-2021 - Tim Head