How Software Engineers Acquire New Knowledge?

How does it really work as part of our professional life that we get into a new topic, a new tool, or a new skill?

The New Things Appear

You hear of a new buzz award or a new topic in your profession, be it a new JavaScript framework, a new build tool, or something bigger like a whole new domain such as deep learning or digital currencies.

Deciding to Dive In

At first, you are reluctant to try it. Well, we all here about getting out of your comfort zone. But with knowledge acquisition, you already have the continuously accumulating pile of papers, and getting into a new domain, well ...

Making the Quantum Leap

Finally, you are convinced you must learn something new. You choose your favorite way, be it a book, an online course from the like of Coursera, Lynda, or Udemy, or just a good deep tutorial, or the official web site for the new thing.

So you invest the time, you accumulate the mass of knowledge. You made the quantum jump.

The Stream of Deltas

From that point on you integrate the new thing into your usual knowledge update processes. At the beginning, each new article is a big delta for your knowledge. But slowly, your knowledge saturates, and you know to skip that extra tutorial or deep dive. Simply because they duplicate your current level of knowledge.

At a later stage, you can filter out most of the little deltas. Because you can judge that they are less important.

Filtering Out the Whiz Kids

And for those articles who propose advanced things, it is wise to wait, because you still did not practice enough the basics.

From my experience, many of the more advanced things would be useful. Only for a limited fraction of the audience in the domain and in limited circumstances.