Keeping Up With Technology

Keeping up with technology sometimes feels like a full-time job. Everyday there are new and interesting books, articles, projects, videos and more coming out! That’s on top of ton of history that is worth learning (and not repeating). And that just covers industry. Academia piles on even more to master.

At first, learning all these things feels completely overwhelming; however, once you build a base and learn how to learn, it is not so bad. Graduate school hones these skills, as does working in a fast-paced, dynamic environment. If neither is an option, experiment with the different mediums below and you will reap the rewards.

Below is a list of ways that I keep up with technology. The list is organized as person-to-person and solo.

If you have a different approach or a great site, please let me know!

Person-to-person

People are social creatures. We are one of the only species capable of learning from others, so person-to-person is a very natural avenue. That being said, it does require more time and energy to alter your routine and attend these structured events.

Local events

If you’re feeling social, local meetings are a fantastic way to find smart, interesting people. Around Austin we have something technical happening virtually every night of the month (see these lists: http://door64.com/calendar? | http://geekaustin.org/guide-austin-tech-meetups | Austin Tech Meetups: http://www.meetup.com/find/?mcName=Austin&categories=34). A couple that I’ve been to and enjoyed include the Austin Java User’s Group and Austin on Rails.

Conferences

There are a number of potentially worthwhile conferences, both academic and industrial. I’ve been to several academic conferences, which were worthwhile for graduate research. I have not been to an industry conference, but I’d be interested to attend No Fluff Just Stuff and Strange Loop.

Groups and Mailing Lists, Twitter, and Google Plus

Personally, I prefer website interactions, but I would be remiss if I omitted social media and newsgroups. While you can choose to lurk with all of these methods, at least the opportunities for interaction are there :)

Want to keep up with what’s going on with Clojure? Just join the Clojure mailing list. Whatever you’re interested in, search for the group and join it. You can also follow the discussion on Twitter or Google Plus. This is a great way to find out who’s who in the community.

Solo

If you’re not feeling social, there are a ton of more solitary options. I love the asynchronous nature of in-person learning: if I have five minutes I can sneak in some learning without coordinating with anyone else.

Books

I like to balance theory and application, so I split time between learning by doing and learning by reading. Two of my favorite books (below) concisely capture years of lessons learned and provide a vocabulary for interacting with others in the field.

For more ideas on what to read, check

Websites

There’s a website for everything, right? The trick is finding worthwhile ones. A few of my favorite aggregators are

From here, I can find interesting articles and people to follow.

To keep up with myriad websites, I recommend RSS, particularly Google Reader, which is free—you just need a Google account. Reader links to Plus fairly easily, so you can share interesting content pretty easily.

Podcasts

For iOS devices, I love the Downcast app (http://www.downcastapp.com/). Some of my favorite podcasts so far include

Online Learning and Videos

I’ve covered online learning previously, so I will simply point to my post Online Learning is Taking Off.

Read Code

Some would say that reading code is as important as writing code. Luckily, code is easier to find than ever! For example, check out a popular repo lik Google Guava or let GitHub guide you.

What do you think?

Did I miss something? Would you categorize differently? What’s your preferred method of keeping up with tech?