Learning How To Learn

Web dev, front-end development, programming, coding, whatever you want to call it, is not easy. I’m sure at some point people get to a place where they can get through most of a day purely on the knowledge they already have, but I don’t believe that people live in that state for very long. All technology changes at a rapid pace, and everything you are confident you know today will be deprecated tomorrow.

Such A Gloomy Outlook

Quite the opposite for me, really. The worst thing that has happened to me professionally is stagnation. I really dislike knowing that everything I do today will be a repeat of yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. This is one of the key reasons I’m so infatuated with the idea of becoming a web developer. Some day I hope to be at the top of the game, on the very cutting edge of technology. And when that happens, the game will change and I will have a whole new game to learn.

The important thing for me is to always feel like there’s another mountain to climb, another path to explore, another sea to sail. I’ve always loved the quote:

And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.

I don’t know if Alexander the Great really said that, or Caesar to whom it’s often mis-attributed, but I can empathize with it. Maybe it’s a product of my limited, 30-something years of life experience, but I do not like the thought of never doing or learning anything again.

Learning How To Learn

All this rambling leads here. In web dev, you will always encounter things you don’t know. For me, I’m more surprised when I encounter things I do know. For everything else the most important thing you can learn is how to find what you need and the obvious solution there is Google. I don’t know how programmers did it before Google. I’m imagining huge stacks of dog-eared books, manuals, and a whole host of other reference material which will sadly be out of date by the time it makes it to press. I feel very lucky to have Google. And I use it. A lot. One thing that amazes me is now I can ask google something quite vague and ambiguous like “what does sort return” and third result down is a link from the Mozilla Developer’s Network telling me all about JavaScript’s Array.prototype.sort() method.

I wonder if programmers at Microsoft are required to use Bing? Maybe that’s why Windows is the way it is?

I’ve spent so much time pouring through github README.md;s, Stack Overflow, MDN. Every question I’ve ever had I’ve been able to find an answer to, but the real challenge was learning how to ask the right questions, and how to vet the answers. Many times I’ve gone down a rabbit hole of solutions only to find the answer was presented seven years ago and is no longer viable.

In summation, to bastardize a quote from John Van Buren,

Google early, and Google often.

Most of my coding time is spent debugging. Most of my debugging time is spent Googling. And cussing. It’s really about 50/50.

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