Simon Willison’s Weblog


One year of TILs

2nd May 2021

Just over a year ago I started tracking TILs, inspired by Josh Branchaud’s collection. I’ve since published 148 TILs across 43 different topics. It’s a great format!

TIL stands for Today I Learned. The thing I like most about TILs is that they drop the barrier to publishing something online to almost nothing.

If I’m writing a blog entry, I feel like it needs to say something new. This pressure for originality leads to vast numbers of incomplete, draft posts and a sporadic publishing schedule that trends towards not publishing anything at all.

(Establishing a weeknotes habit has helped enormously here too.)

The bar for a TIL is literally “did I just learn something?”—they effectively act as a public notebook.

They also reflect my values as a software engineer. The thing I love most about this career is that the opportunities to learn new things never reduce—there will always be new sub-disciplines to explore, and I aspire to learn something new every single working day.

My hope is that by publishing a constant stream of TILs I can reinforce the idea that even if you’ve been working in this industry for twenty years there will always be new things to learn, and learning any new trick—even the most basic thing—should be celebrated.