I like learning new things. I’ve been like that as far as I can remember, from getting a “How Does It Work?” massive textbook-like tome when I was about 8 or 9 which, despite the intonation of the title, actually did a pretty good job of explaining how things actually worked from how they made Christopher Reeves fly in Superman (mirrors and clever projection) to things like how the original Indian Rope Trick was done (a gruesome tale of dismembered monkeys).
I found all of that fascinating.
This curiosity has been a good benefit in my career as a web/software developer. The industry moves at such a pace that you need to have a good level of interest to keep up. I’ve worked with people who don’t have that interest and, to be honest, it shows in their work. Scott Hanselman has a good post on this over at his blog.
Since I find out about most new industry innovations through Twitter, blogs, etc., I try and keep a list of things that look worth trying out and bookmark any interesting items on Readbility (or, before it was ruined, Delicious). But, it’s becoming clear that the number of things “to read” is increasing at a higher rate than the number of things “read”. Which doesn’t bode well for catching up.
Part of this is a conscious effort to spend less time working or doing work related things. I went through a period a few years ago where I was working upwards of 18 hours a day on full time work, freelance stuff and personal projects. That didn’t end well. So, I’m spending less time actively sitting down to code in my free time.
Another cause is the increasing complexity of the stuff that I want to learn. When I was starting out, many, many (9) years ago, sitting down to learn CSS or HTML wasn’t really as taxing as deciding to learn Node.js or Code First EF. More advanced tech can’t really be cracked (by me) in a couple of hours.
A decision to have a look at CoffeeScript last weekend ate most of those days.
So, what to do? Learn fewer things, get good at them but risk missing out on something that I’d find really interesting? Look into everything but don’t spend enough time to learn anything in depth? Stop sleeping? I don’t know.
What I do know is that my list of “to look into” stuff now contains (off the top of my head):
- Entity Framework Code First
- .NET Web API
- Python (in prep for eventualreceipt of my Raspberry Pi)
It’s no wonder I’ve still got unplayed XBox games I got for Christmas 2009.