October 22, 2012, 3:40 PM —
In last week’s blog post I discussed the importance of being generally knowledgeable of technologies outside your specific technical expertise. As promised, this week, I’ll be expanding on this topic and providing various suggestions on how to gain this general understanding.
Note that this understanding comes in two flavors, general and specific. By general, I’m referring to trends within the computer industry, such as BYOD, Active Listening, Big Data, and new IT job titles such as Data Scientist. By specific, I mean technologies that directly touch your technology. For example, if you are a Java developer, you should have a general understanding of how databases are normalized, and how server consolidation in the data center affects your application’s performance and available hardware resources.
1. Be curious
Being curious is the cornerstone of understanding the technologies around you. If you’re a technologist, be passionate about learning new things. If you are in a closely related role, such as Business Analyst, Project Manager, or Website Designer, learn how the technology works, not of course to the level that you can do it, that’s not your profession, but understand it well enough that you can intelligently talk about it.
Take note, that if you are not curious by nature, the suggestions listed below will most likely be of no value to you. If you are not interested and curious, you most likely won’t ask questions, do web searches, or be inclined to do the things suggested within this blog.
2. Ask questions
As funny as it sounds, one of the best ways to learn about the technologies around you is to be curious as to how they work. If you are a software developer and hear a technical term you are unfamiliar with when walking through the data center, then ask what it means. If you work in the data center and a Project Manager says he/she has just taken a class on the Agile methodology, ask how it works if you are not Agile knowledgeable.
3. Create your technology bucket list
Get organized by writing down the list of technologies you would really like to learn more about and haven’t had the chance. Then, each week, set aside an hour or two to investigate a different technology. This short review will by no means make you an expert, but it will at least give you a general understanding and little bit of technical depth on the topic.