Steve Workman's Blog

How I Learn

Posted on by Steve Workman About 3 min reading time

People appear to be in two different camps on the question of "how hard is coding today?". There's a group who keep on the cutting edge of technology (the GraphQL-using, framework-switching bunch who are currently talking up Astro) and those who don't, or cannot, for many, many different reasons.

Whilst I've not gotten around to trying Astro, or Svelte, or even GraphQL, I personally try to keep up with what's going on in the web. I like to learn about what's coming up in JavaScript (hello Temporal API at Stage 3) rather than the next framework, though you could say that I keep my ear to the ground on technology. So, how do I do it?

I would like to add that I consider myself as extremely "time poor" - with a lot on from my day job as the lead front-end engineer at a 100K+ person company, to two young children and attempting to exercise and run a household with my partner who also works a high-responsibility job in a large company. There's not a lot of free time in my life for just sitting and reading/writing. To demonstrate this, just have a look back other blog posts and see how many I writer per year. Can guess when my eldest was born?

What's the secret then?

Sounds easy, right? I've been a professional software engineer for 15 years, and I spent the first 5 years immersed in the mid 00's tech culture of London. I went to, and helped to run, monthly events. I met the speakers, I sat and talked to them about (what I thought) were trivial little issues. But it turned out that I wasn't ever alone with these issues, and I got to understand how the web worked and how the web was made.

In going to these meetups, I found that I was basically hungry to know more. I liked to learn and understand what makes the web tick. The people who made the web became friends, and I learnt that I had also gone to university with some of them (though cannot remember them from then at all!). I found that through this and the connections that I made I could always ask these people that make the web a question, and most of the time I'd get an answer, or another link in the chain to the next person.

The problem is that in the lastt 2 years meetups have all but stopped. That in-person contact and connections are harder and harder to find. So, the next best place is Twitter.

Yeah, I know, Twitter isn't the paradise of tech enthusiasts that it once was, but hear me out. There's still a lot of great conversations that happen. There are ideas (admittedly, often very raw ideas) that can give you ideas about the next thing.

Importantly, it's also a news feed. You'll find blog posts, articles and videos shared by dev rel and by the accounts of a framework that you like. Say you want to learn more about CSS - follow Harry Roberts, (@CSSWizardry) and CSS Tricks (@CSS) and they'll give you lots of articles to read by a lot of authors.

Those feeds are great, but can be a lot of detail and even more noise. So, I genuinely find that RSS Feeds and an RSS reader such as Feedly are a great way to stay on top in a manageable way. These are just the articles that a site thinks are good to publish and don't havee any of the "what I had for breakfast" content.

The list of blogs and content that I read is varied, but it includes:

I've exported my list as an OPML file that most RSS readers can read. I hope that this might help you learn too, or at least hear what I hear.

In summary

It's about developing a passion for learning and then finding the time to do it through curated feeds and dedicated time to learn.

If you want more advice, message me on Twitter, @steveworkman