The Pragmatic Programmer

A while ago I was browsing online resources for information about programming and I had come across a reading list that recommended “The Pragmatic Programmer” by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. I couldn’t find it in the Ocean State Library System, but our awesome local librarians were able to track down a copy for me from the Salem State College Library in Massachusetts.

It was written in 2000, which in technology-years is ancient, but it deals with general principles and universal problems, so for the most part, it really isn’t all that dated.

One section I love talks about investing in your “knowledge portfolio”. The basic idea is that the value of knowledge declines unless you continue to invest in it. Technology advances, market forces shift, environments are always changing and the value of your knowledge can quickly become obsolete or devalued.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin”

Managing your “knowledge portfolio” isn’t so different than managing a financial portfolio:

  • Invest Regularly (Learn constantly)
  • Diversify (The more technologies you are comfortable with, the better you will be able to adjust to change)
  • Manage Risk (Don’t put all of your technical eggs in one basket)
  • Buy Low, Sell High (It can pay off to learn an emerging technology before it becomes popular)
  • Review and Rebalance

I guess I already knew all of that, but I never really thought of it from a career advancement perspective. I just saw learning and trying new technologies as essential to staying passionate about what I do. I like how they dissected those ideas and provided clarity.