Monday, October 23, 2006

Serious Reading


Chris Sells answers a few questions in public but one comment got my attention:

How are you able to keep up with the changes? What books do you read?

[csells] I keep up with changes by a) a broad familiarity with as much technology as possible and then b) committing to using it because it feels like it’ll be the right thing and c) using fear to motivate me (recognize a pattern? : ). I read books on demand given the topic I’m into, and then it’s 3-5 books in a week for immersion. Frankly, after writing a few books, I’m a bit of a snob, so I don’t read a lot of technical books for fun the way I used to.
Wow: three to five books in a week for "immersion." It's a stark reminder on a personal level of how much more aggressive I need to get with my own reading list (which, incidentally, includes Sells's Windows Forms Programming) but in a general sense it shows a hallmark of what the information age does to programmers - it might not be intelligence that separates us (though I think Sells is remarkably intelligent), it's the ability to absorb information quickly.

I don't read very quickly so it's a matter of discipline and will to work on absorbing what's relevant for the job and the future. But in a word where guys like Sells chew up and spit out technologies before most people are seriously working with them, a person needs a good reminder of staying focused.

It reminds me of the brief exchange I had with Hanselman. I'd ask a question, he'd casually suggest a book. It says, to me, that there's a bit of mysticism to how smart people like that stay on top of things but really that the information is out there and ready to be consumed if only one is disciplined enough to pursue it.


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