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Taming the Technology Tidal Wave

Brett Lewinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 22, 2008
Posts: 19
Hi Jacquie -

I have a question regarding new technologies. I recently attended a symposium and I was introduced to a slew of newer and innovating technologies and languages; they really got me excited. Now my current employer doesn't use any of these technologies and it is really difficult to bring a new technology into the environment. My question is how do I continue to keep my enthusiasm level high concerning the new technologies and learn them the best I can? I don't want to put off learning them but on the other hand I don't have much of an opportunity to learn them and I don't want to keep too narrow of a skill set.

I actually thought of another question; if I aspire to become a software architect do you think it is better to have a specific skill set that you are a rockstar in or is it better to know a variety of different skills?

Thanks!
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1621
    
  13

Hi Brett,

Until Jacquie has a chance to respond, here's my tuppence worth (or $0.02).

There's another discussion going on about the relative merits of general skills vs. specialism, on this thread:

http://www.coderanch.com/t/471396/Jobs-Discussion/careers/Wide-Shallow-VS-Narrow-Deep

"Rockstar"? Be good at what you do now, then build on that. The last thing this industry needs is more over-hyped "rock stars"!

As for the new skills, think about the underlying concepts and pick out the themes you want to explore in greater depth e.g. dynamic languages on the JVM. Then pick a corresponding tool to use for your practical investigations e.g. Groovy, JRuby, Scala, Jython etc. Buy a book or use online resources to get you started, pick a simple application to implement using these new toys, preferably something that might be relevant to your day-job, and go ahead and build something real in your spare time. That's the only way to learn how these things really work, and you may be able to use it to demonstrate to your employer why they might find these technologies useful.

And remember, your employer may be quite right to be sceptical about these new toys. As techies, we often get so enthusiastic about new technology that we forget the primary purpose of IT in most businesses is to support the business, not to provide a playground for our enthusiasms. If you can show them how their business might benefit e.g. from improved productivity in IT development, or more maintainable systems, perhaps on a smaller test project, then they might be more interested. At the very least, they might appreciate you spending your own time on thinking about practical ideas to improve their business.

Also, most conferences and symposia are as much about marketing as anything else. There's a new language or tool every few weeks, and everybody's selling their own brand of snake oil. Start looking underneath the hype and try to spot potential practical applications e.g. in your own working environment, as well as the signs of any genuinely new concepts or paradigms (as Jacquie says elsewhere), that might be more generally applicable.

Good luck!


No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Burk Hufnagel
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 814
    
    3
Bret,
I think if you want to become an architect, you need a broad skill set - and if you look at requirements for the SCEA, you'll see that Sun agrees. That said, make sure there's at least one thing you're an expert in so that there's a reason to hire you over the other candidates.

Oh yeah, there may be another way to learn that new technology. Look around for an open source project that uses it and get involved there. Doing so may help keep you motivated because you're contributing to a larger community and it gives you people to help when you get stuck on something.

Just another two cents,
Burk


SCJP, SCJD, SCEA 5 "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" Agatha Heterodyne (Girl Genius)
Jacquie Barker
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Brett Lewinski wrote:Hi Jacquie -

I have a question regarding new technologies. I recently attended a symposium and I was introduced to a slew of newer and innovating technologies and languages; they really got me excited. Now my current employer doesn't use any of these technologies and it is really difficult to bring a new technology into the environment. My question is how do I continue to keep my enthusiasm level high concerning the new technologies and learn them the best I can? I don't want to put off learning them but on the other hand I don't have much of an opportunity to learn them and I don't want to keep too narrow of a skill set.

I actually thought of another question; if I aspire to become a software architect do you think it is better to have a specific skill set that you are a rockstar in or is it better to know a variety of different skills?

Thanks!


If they are open source technologies (i.e., free! ;o), I urge you to download and install them on your home computer and "play." With emerging technologies, even being able to say you've dabbled in them puts you ahead of the vast majority of the pack. That being said, if you adopt too early, don't be dismayed if the technologies fizzle out ... many do.

Another option is to look into whether there are affordable "jumpstart" courses available in your area -- more and more organizations are offering inexpensive weekend training sessions to give folks an opportunity to get their hands dirty with technologies that their employers may not yet be investing in. In the D.C. area, check out http://jumpstartlab.com (please mention my name!), and also look into the "No Fluff, Just Stuff" conference series.

I agree that a breadth of skills is best when looking to perform in the role of an architect.

Best wishes in your career pursuits, wherever they may lead you!


Author of Beginning Java Objects, Beginning C# Objects, and Taming the Technology Tidal Wave
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Taming the Technology Tidal Wave
 
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