Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Personal Technology Radar: How to keep up?

I gave a short presentation/demonstration to NCSU Computer Science students last night, it was full of various buzzwords, thoughts, random associations, high speed talking, etc. :-)

I focused on things like Aerogear (SDKs for mobile app dev, Push Notifications, storage), Vert.x (polyglot async services for the JVM) and showed off JBoss Tools for mobile app dev (https://vimeo.com/67480300).

One fellow posed a very interesting question to me, "how do you keep up?" and what follows was my off-the-cuff response.


  • I am no longer able to follow news sites such as HackerNews
  • I am no longer to follow RSS feeds
  • I am no longer to keep up with the blogs (via RSS) that show up in my Flipboard account and
  • I am unable to read even 10% of the messages that follow through Google+ or Twitter, which is where I follow key colleagues and industry experts.
Basically, I am unable to consume the "push" news, I am only able to consume the topics I seek out.

So, how does a topic show up on my personal technology radar, I follow conference agendas. If you simply look at key conference agendas and then drill-down on those topics yourself it is pretty easy to keep your finger on the pulse of things. Conferences that I have participated in and always enjoy attending when I can are:

and we, Red Hat folks, are working on a really cool developer conference ourselves - watch the twitter stream for that announcement. Plus, I am also very interested in UberConf and The Rich Web Experience - anything that Jay Zimmerman is putting on.

There is one slight disadvantage of using this particular filtering mechanism, your feeling for how important a topic is can be slanted based on the abilities of the associated speakers. For instance, someone like James Ward, who is one of the best developer advocates in our industry is not only a great public speaker but he is also fairly high volume - therefore you may be more inclined to delve deeper into one of his topics. The same could be said for many of the excellent presenters that show up for these conferences.

There is another more significant disadvantage, if a particular innovation/tool/technique has no evangelist, nobody to talk about it, is so "unpopular" that it does not show up at a conference...well then it tends to miss my radar. So I do have a personal bias towards "popular" topics, ones with buzz, ones with somebody willing to talk about it in public. I allow for this bias because, at the end-of-the-day, I have found that "popular" topics are more likely to have staying power over the course of several years.

You would rather not invest dozens if not hundreds of hours in learning a new thing to only have that item fade into history with nobody left using it. Granted, learning for learning sake is still a very good thing. :-)


1 comment:

  1. I personally find Twitter a very good source for random, yet relevant information. When I'm in the bus or train, I have around 10-20 minutes to see what some influencers are saying. That's enough.

    Just this week, this interesting study was published about the very same topic: