I’m Nicole van der Hoeven, and Doing It in Public is a book I’m writing about learning in public: what it is, why you should do it, and practical instructions for how to do it. To keep up with the spirit of the book, I’m attempting to write the book itself in public. That means that depending on when you’re reading this, you may still find the book in various stages of disarray. Be warned! Here be dragons.

Here’s a video of me talking about the context behind this book and how I came up with the idea:

Giving feedback

A vital part of this process is getting (and responding to) feedback at every step. To facilitate this, here are the best ways you can give me feedback:

What should you give feedback on? The structure of the book/chapter, whether something was unclear, ideas or suggestions for how I could improve it, new ideas you think I should consider… I’m open to everything related to the content.

Please don’t give feedback on spelling and grammar. That’ll all be sorted out during the proofreading later.

Getting updates

There are three ways you can get updates about new chapters for review:

  • Join my Discord server. I’ll post requests for reviews in the channel #book-doing-it-in-public.
  • Sign up for my newsletter, Thinking in Public. I’ll mention available chapters for review there.
  • Check Changelog here for updates.

In the spirit of learning in public, here’s a talk I did at the PKM Summit 2024 where I discussed some of the topics of this book as a way to get early feedback:


  • What is learning in public?
  • Why should you learn in public?
  • How do you learn in public?
  • How the rest of the book is laid out
  • Limiting beliefs that hold us back from making things
  • Open-sourcing knowledge: why open source still works
  • Accountability and precommitments
  • Authenticity by default, and ethical creativity
  • When you can show your work
  • The Observer Effect, and how to use it to your benefit
  • What is all this for?

Chapter 2. Mindset

  • Make it observable
    • Observability of complex distributed systems
    • Prefer visible work
    • Own what you make
    • Lead and lag indicators
  • Make it continuous
    • The convergence of code and speech
    • Continuous improvement in software development
    • Agile and iterative, incremental work
    • Learning sustainably
    • The Cult of Done
  • Make it fun
    • Cultivating playfulness and curiosity
    • Learning useless things
    • Learning things you have no business learning
    • How to learn hard things
  • Do it in a group
    • Learn within communities
    • Find an accountability group
    • Get good at listening for signals
    • Get good at asking for feedback and receiving it well
    • Experiment
  • Make it intentional
    • What are your exit criteria?
    • How to get out of your own way
    • Get clear about why you’re doing this, and why you’re not
  • The Manifesto for Learning in Public

Chapter 3. Tier 0: Microlearning

  • Building a foundation for learning in public
  • Starting before you’re ready
  • What if it could be easy?
  • Social media
  • The life-changing magic of the daily #TIL
  • What if you don’t know what you want to learn or write about?
  • Writing stuff down and publishing it
  • Commonplace books and resonance calendars
  • Arguments for plain text
  • Experimenting on different platforms
  • (social media, code, microblogging, taking notes)

Chapter 4. Tier 1: Systematising your learning

  • Turning notes into a Personal Knowledge Management system
  • Creating your own site
  • Version control and gitting gud
    • How to keep some things private and some things public: information segmentation and regulation
  • How to organise your notes: namespaces, filenames
  • The value of a public changelog
  • Learning in public when you have attention deficit challenges
  • (PKM, static site generators, Git)

Chapter 5. Tier 2: Longform learning

  • The value of failed experiments
  • Leaning into your unfair advantage
  • Creating high-effort content based on signals
  • Repurposing content to broaden your reach
  • What if no one’s watching?
  • Batching, exploring overlaps between your interests
  • (videos, blog posts, larger development projects, songs, podcasts)

Chapter 6. Tier 3: Automating your learning

  • Creating a content calendar
  • Deciding on publishing cadence, developing consistency
  • Scheduling posts and creating a buffer
  • Feedback triage and prioritising
  • Building a CI/CD pipeline for learning
  • (content management, product management, processing pipeline, Zapier)

Chapter 7. Tier 4: Building a community

  • Creating strategic content
  • Cultivating ritual dissent
  • Helping others
  • Saying no
  • Making a living out of doing it in public
  • Finding your people through continuous learning
  • (communities, courses, conference talks, apps)

Chapter 8. Pitfalls in learning in public

  • Optimal quitting and exit criteria for learning in public
  • Art vs Exhibitionism
  • When is feedback noise? When you should stop caring what people think.
  • Oversharing and maintaining privacy (personal and professional)
  • One for you, one for them

Chapter 9. When to learn in private

  • Strategic inauthenticity
  • Setting public boundaries
    • Core principles
    • Ethics statement
    • Manifesto for posting online
    • Automatic no list, automatic no reply list
    • Defensive calendaring
  • Identifying distant mentors
  • The art of lurking
  • Steel-manning and the Hegelian Dialectic
  • Platonic forms and mental models

Chapter 10. Conclusion: The cost of not doing it in public

  • Burnout and overwork
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • The Starving Artist mentality
  • Business/financial cost: having nothing to show for your work
  • Getting it wrong late - training the monkey first