I must be the all absorbing sponge!

Sara The SpongeI recently went to DDD8 and had a fantastic time. It has to be one of my more favoured tech events for a number of reasons; I get to chat with some very  passionate industry people whom are almost always inspiring in some way. I catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while and hear what they have been up to, this year I got to catch up with @robcthegeek and @johnnonolan from my RCP sessions which was great. There’s also the insight into new technologies and the explanation from some very knowledgeable developers of some technologies I’ve really wanted to have a look at but haven’t yet had the chance.

Being there this year reminded me of last year, only this year I was armed with some valuable knowledge…

Do NOT try to be the all absorbing sponge!

Puzzled? Let me explain. When I went to this event last year, much as this year, I met some very intelligent and experienced developers.  This was great, I was inspired and motivated. However at the same time I came away feeling like I didn’t know anywhere near what I should and that I should hit the books and programming challenges immediately. So last year I spent a large portion of it trying to cram as much knowledge into my brain as I possibly could. I was trying to learn so much I didn’t feel like I was grasping anything properly. I felt that every spare moment I had should be spent expanding my knowledge base! This meant I was constantly feeling under pressure and it was all my own doing! After discussing my worries with a few developers in the community, it seemed they were experiencing the same problems. These discussions helped me gain some clarity on the situation:

Number 1:  STOP trying to learn everything at once. Focus on one particular area,  get a good firm understanding and see if you like it
Number 2:  Don’t learn something you don’t like just because you think you should know it. You have to really enjoy a subject to know it well so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t understand something you don’t like.
Number 3:  Do not rush yourself! If you’re not picking it up first time don’t worry keep practicing, you’ll get it! These things DO take time
Number 4: You will never know everything, it’s not possible there’s too much to know. That shouldn’t stop you from wanting to know everything though ;)
Number 5: STOP comparing yourself to others, you will probably find that the people you talk to are very strong in one area and weaker in another
Number 6: Don’t be a Jack of all trades and master of none. Once you have found the area you love stick with it and master it

I sometimes find it hard to remember some of these points but now they are here I’ll be able to keep myself in check! Is you anything you think should be added?

Just a quick note, I wanted to say thank you to all of those whom organised and ran DDD8, brilliant event and very well done!

S :)

Filed under: Personal Development, ,

4 Responses

  1. Sarkie Says:

    As always you’ve hit the nail on the head with a great post, this is exactly how I feel at times.

    Everyone is learning this? I’ll teach myself it….do I actually need to do this?
    I then learn it, but then I wonder if I’ve done it right and should I have bothered.

    The degree I took at Uni was wide ranging, so I could have a jack of all trades approach, but I like “knowing” about a technology, but not necessarily “using” till I need it / want it. I did this with ASP.net MVC, I knew the Pro’s of it and when I could see a use for it, I urged my manager to let me use it, we did and there we go a new technology!

    Now, I’m trying to figure out how to get Ruby in the mix.

    I’m gutted I didn’t get to go to DDD8, I would have come but had plans which were cancelled! Maybe next year!!

    Awesome post, Sara!


    Posted on February 3rd, 2010 at 15:58

  2. CaRDiaK Says:

    Awesome as usual, very inspiring.

    I think it was in McConnells book where he explained the most powerful tool in a programmers arsenal is his / her brain. Once you learn the limits of your own brain you really start to master this tool :)

    Posted on February 3rd, 2010 at 16:04

  3. robcthegeek Says:

    Hey Sara,

    Fantastic post – and something I think we should ALL take note of, no matter how “good” we think we are.

    It’s funny, one of the main reasons I love software is because it is a such a rich industry, there is so much going on, lots to learn, lots of thought and innovation..

    This ends up becoming part of the problem – it’s so massively overwhelming at times.

    As I have improved both as a dev as well as a general “GTD’er” I have really started to learn that we needto call YAGNI across the board.

    Do what you do, do it well :)

    Nice post!

    Posted on February 3rd, 2010 at 17:28

  4. Svish Says:

    That’s pretty much how I felt as well after my first developer conference, NDC09. One thing I learned after that was:

    - Don’t think you are there to learn anything.

    And what I mean about that, is that I went there thinking I would learn something, which you generally don’t. However, you can learn *of* a lot of things. So now I know that:

    - When at a developer conference, don’t go to talks on topics you think you should learn. Go to talks on topics you are curious about, with cool/interesting/funny speakers and have fun =)

    Posted on February 4th, 2010 at 13:26

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