You Are What You Read
One of my favorite questions when interviewing software developers is, "What books, journals, or magazines related to our trade have you read lately?" If they've read a lot, then we have a springboard for further discussions, drilling down, and probing: "Why this topic, why this author, what's interesting in this publication, any article in particular that struck you?" Quite often in the past 10 years, however, the answer has been "not much." A person in a technical field such as ours not reading anything—books or articles—is a bad sign. As I described in this column a few months ago (and some readers wrote to me to confirm my conjecture), the "biological half-life" of our software engineering knowledge is probably around five years. So, if concepts, ideas, tools, or techniques in our field have such a short shelf life, we must constantly replenish our brains' content. We can't stop learning new things, or we'll get empty pretty rapidly, as well as useless and obsolete. We must constantly learn new tricks, and reading good, serious material about a topic is still an excellent approach to learning new tricks.
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