How Do You Keep On Top of Technology?

“How Do You Keep On Top of Technology?”

I ask this question when interviewing candidates. I’ve done it for years (varying the wording for my own entertainment), yet remain surprised by the number of blank faces it yields.

I hint at possible responses.

“Are there any forums you participate in? Any industry blogs or sites that you frequent?”

….

“Any technology magazines that you read?”

….

“Do you ever visit Hacker News? Other technology sites? Any mailing lists?”

….

“Do you build any projects for fun with emerging technologies? Participate in any open source projects?”

….

I’ve learned that some developers (more than most would expect) simply do nothing to keep on top of technology.

They do the work that is assigned to them, participate in employer-assigned training where available (which is shockingly rare, and seldom of value regardless), and often, and sadly, become increasingly unmarketable as their skill-set stratifies and becomes static.

Ultimately it’s okay if some portion of teams are composed of such careerists: So long as the ship is guided by others, and technology enlightenment is doled out progressively and the path made evident, progress will be made and everyone will progress and acquire skills and new techniques.

But if the whole team has that technology malaise, bad times are afoot. The end result are teams working as an effective time capsule of a period in time.