There’s a meme in my parts of the internet that it’s important to “work in public.” (I tried to find specific citations of this but timed out; the circle of the internet I’m thinking about is folks like @robwalling and @patio11 but I think the meme extends beyond those folks.) The phrase “working in public” is usually shorthand for “produce public artifacts, like blog posts or podcast episodes, as a byproduct of your work process” and the idea is that this will propel you toward the goals of your work by making you a better communicator, expanding your social network, etc.

I don’t think this is bad advice; indeed, I’m currently writing a blog post, and have maintained a blogging practice in one form or another for most of my adult life. However, I no longer think that working in public is a superpower, and here’s why: empirically, the most accomplished people in any domain I can think of do not work in public. Elon Musk? He has a very persona, but the inner workings of his companies are extremely private. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos? Ditto, basically. What about outside my weird little tech/business bubble? I’d argue this is true for artists, musicians, actors, and writers as well. Their work product is extremely public but their process is generally not. Conversely, if I think about people who are known for “working in public,” they are generally not the absolute best person around at doing the work. Indeed, often times the “informational byproduct” has become the work itself for these people, and there’s nothing wrong with that–I and many others have learned tremendously from such people.

For myself, I am confident that my goal is not to work in public for its own sake, but rather to actually accomplish the work at an excellent level. Therefore, when I write in public it is mostly an exercise in improving my own communication skills, with a distant secondary goal of connecting with like-minded people.