So, I’m doing something new this week. Instead of just offering my own thoughts and ideas, I’m taking questions from readers on the list, here, and answering those questions. You ask. I answer. Everyone benefits.
This week’s question is the first one that I received from a mailing list member, and it’s a good one (posted with permission):
What’s the best way as developers to stay relevant in an ever changing world of technology?
It’s hard to pin this down to one thing, but I think I can safely say:
Never stop learning!
In everything you do, in every part of your job – from interaction with other people, to getting your hands dirty with new technologies. Never stop learning, from anything and everything around you.
There’s a problem with such high level, nebulous ideas like “never stop learning”, though. It doesn’t really give anyone a concrete thing to do. It doesn’t provide any kind of structure or guidance on what to learn and why. This is where we get in to the depths and weeds, and analysis paralysis sets in – the feeling of being so overwhelmed by everything we might do, that we don’t do anything. I battled this problem just this week, honestly. It sent me in to a spiral of not being able to do anything but react to fires. And that only ends with growing frustration instead of a sense of accomplishment.
So, without knowing much about the person that asked this question (other than browsing their blog for a moment, which I found from their twitter profile), I recommended something that may help them, and may also help you grow in your career – a book:
So, why this book? Judging from the blog of the person asking this question, they’re doing a lot of .NET development. I loved and worked in C# and .NET for almost 10 years – it’s a great language and runtime / platform! But having been out of that realm for almost 4 years now, I’ve come to realize that my own growth as a developer was limited by my propensity to stick with what I knew. Sure, I was getting more and more exposure to tools and languages within the Microsoft and .NET realms, but it wasn’t until I stepped out of this world and started learning new languages and platforms, that I really started to grow professionally.
I believe this book will help you if you’re really looking to grow. It will introduce not only new languages, but new ways of thinking with each of these languages. You’ll cover functional languages, dynamically types languages, and more – things that are rare inside of a .NET shop, in my experience. And from my experience, I can tell you that learning a new language and a new way to think will improve your existing skills with your existing languages.
Shortly after sending this reply to the person that asked, I got a response:
I’m actually in the process of reviving my blog and getting back into posting on a more regular basis. I think I will definitely pick up that book you suggest and maybe I’ll blog what I gain from it.
I hope my suggestion on learning new languages as a way to stay relevant and keep up with the world of changing technology will be as helpful to you, as it was to this person.