Mark Needham

Thoughts on Software Development

Reading outside your area of interest

with 2 comments

A reasonable amount of the information that I consume comes either via scanning twitter or from my prismatic feed but I noticed that I’m quite biased to reading things in similar subject areas.

I tend to end up reading about data mining/science, functional programming and startups and while the articles are mostly interesting it does eventually start to feel like you’re in an echo chamber.

I have a subscription to the ACM mainly because I enjoy reading the ‘Communications of the ACM’ magazine which gets sent out every month and until recently I only read articles which I thought would be interesting.

This unfortunately meant that I was adding to the problem I mentioned earlier whereby everything I read is about similar topics.

I decided to try and change that by reading the magazine from cover to cover and although I haven’t finished yet it’s been an interesting experience and I’ve read about things that I wouldn’t have thought to read about including:

  • Do more computer science papers get rejected than those in other subjects?
  • How do we allow people to vote in areas where there’s been a natural disaster?
  • Why are there currently so many post-docs in computer science?
  • How should we go about analysing performance problems?

This seems to be a reasonably good way of diversifying what I read/learn because an editor has decided what I should read rather than me choosing or an algorithm choosing based on what I’ve previously read.

Having said that, I’d be intrigued to know what approaches/strategies others have for getting knowledge of a broader range of topics.

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Written by Mark Needham

February 25th, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Learning

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  • Ilias

    I sometimes like to get lost in a bookshop for an hour or two 🙂

    Can’t find the original pointers but there are many researches showing that modern on-line social networks sometimes have the effect of narrowing our point of view because we tend to connect to people that are similar to us.

  • Some other suggestions on how to learn outside your normal topics via twitter:

    Matt Gumbley:
    picking random/interesting coursera courses; revisiting philosophy, in my case

    Prashant Gandhi:
    TED talks are my source for topics. Following # another