Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

Comments for What's Possible

Learning a new language or technology will have a measurable payoff--in the long term. So it's probably better to allocate some time to learning something new now than later. You never know what that new information might come in handy, or when JavaScript and HTML goes the way of the dodo.

My suggestion since you have a laptop: learn a new language in the loo.

Allocate some time for learning new stuff. You have to understand the difference between tactical advantage and strategic thinking. Fixing more bugs (I am all for it!!!) is a tactical task. Learning new stuff is a strategy. IMHO, strategic tasks should have priority over mundane work. But to keep things in balance you should allocate some fixed time (say, 1h/day) to read, study, and so on. Otherwise you risk to become a victim of some unexpected paradigm shift or more prosaic burnout. ;-)
I guess what, perhaps, I didn't point out is that I *do* allocate time to learning new things. I tend to keep a stack of papers that I'm reading in my backpack and I always have at least one book that I'm slowly slogging through on some topic that I know very little about. What fills me with fear is the thought that I'm not spending *enough* time on that, or that I'm spending it on the wrong places.

The fear is that I'm either ill-equipped (i.e., have previously wasted time) or too myopic (are currently investing in learning wrongly) to figure out what's coming down the pike. So I learn new things, but are they the right ones? Am I spending enough time on it? Am I being introduced to new subtleties in my current understanding or being introduced to new sets of problems?

These are the kinds of un-knownable questions that gnaw at me. Right now, I tend to see the only tractable path as some kind of mentor, but that is it's own set of blinders.

I guess the good news, if there is any, is that I still care enough to worry about it.

by alex at
If the fear of learning the wrong things begins to take over, then take a step back and survey the field. Learn a little about a lot to see where things are going, and then dig in. But so far I think you've been on the right track.

The future is yours, define it! :-)