Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your brain is too small - Quote of the Week

This week's quote comes from the classic, Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction.  If you're not familiar with McConnell's body of work, I suggest you get on that... as per the quote:

Once you admit that your brain is too small to understand most programs and you realize that effective programming is a search for ways to offset that fact, you begin a career-long search for ways to compensate. In the development of a superior programmer, curiosity about technical subjects must be a priority.

Steve McConnell
Code Complete 2nd Ed. p822

Well, he doesn't say you have to be curious about his books specifically, almost every book he's written could be considered a software development classic, so I'd say that it's definitely a good place to start.

I firmly believe that being a software developer is like walking the wrong way on a moving walkway.  If you aren't consistently working to improve and expand your skills and knowledge, then you're falling behind.  Unfortunately that means that one day you could wake up and realize that you've just been laid off and your skill set is 10 years behind the current state of the art.  Or that the development practices that you picked up in school might not be the best ones in the world.

I've been happy that at my current company we have a department reading program (not as developed as I'd like, but it's a start) where we read a book together as a department and then discuss it in our weekly department meeting.  I think that it's been a real eye opener to some as we've read Code Complete, The Pragmatic Programmer and are currently reading Head First Design Patterns.

But aside from whatever your company sponsors, make sure that you're constantly exploring new programming topics.  This can be via books, blogs, trying new languages, attending user groups or code camps and picking the brains of those around you that have more experience.  If you're not curious about what's going on in your field, you're never going to be a superior programmer.

What do you do to scratch your curiosity itch?

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