Programmer, grow thy skills! Be a hacker!
In software development there is one thing that will always be true: You need to learn more. New technologies are popping up all the time, and old technologies fade into the background. Nothing ever seems to really go away, but if you want to stay relevant (and employed as a programmer) you need to keep on learning new things.
I bet you think I’m going to advocate something like an online course or a series of books. But instead I’m going to invite you to adopt the “hacker mindset” which is on of curiosity. Being curious about the world around you will serve you better than any other thing. People who are curious are going to pick up on the new wave of technologies as they come out. I also believe these people will be better equipped to determine which ones are important and worthy of further study, and which ones are… destined to be forgotten. For the record, I don’t count myself an someone who is able to figure out which ones aren’t worth learning. I’ve been wrong about node.js, noSQL databases, and C#. :) But having that hacker mindset lets me be right about which things to keep an eye on (Docker, Python, Open Source in general) and to make sure I keep up on important trends in those areas.
Hacker != Expert
This does not mean I’m an expert on any of these technologies. I’m very much a generalist and happen to know enough about them to be dangerous, and to be interesting to potential employers. This is a very good thing. It means I get exposed to a lot of really interesting ideas and more importantly to interesting people. There’s an old saying “Birds of a feather flock together” and I’ve found it to be very true. If you want to be something (developer, DBA, a chef) you need to find the very best people in that community that are already doing it, and then try to work with them. This will help steer you in the direction you want to be. You will become the average of the people you spend the most time with. This does not mean you will be an expert or as good as they are, but it does mean you will know more than the average other people in that profession. In fact, you don’t even have to learn technical things. What if you were a better writer? What if you learned to cook a good meal? Try and learn about things that outside of your sphere of knowledge and comfort. The best hacker learns things from seemingly unrelated areas.
Learning is an ongoing process
So how do you get this hacker mindset? Be curious.
- Ask how things work.
- Think about how two different things can be mashed together to make something new
- Think about how one thing could be broken into smaller things
- Ask why
Take these thoughts and run with them! See where it takes you!tags: