The most popular talks I’ve been giving over the last two years or so are Refactoring Your Wetware, Pragmatic Learning, and Herding Racehorses and Racing Sheep. Folks keep asking for more info on these topics, so I thought maybe it was time to actually write this stuff down.
The first couple chapters of Refactor Your Wetware: Pragmatic Thinking and Learning are now available as a beta book. I plan to add chapters every two weeks or so throughout the beta period.
I’ve written many times that the two most important skills for a programmer (IMHO) are communications and learning. In this book, I’m taking a hard look at expertise, thinking and learning.
The fact is we have to learn new stuff all the time. Not just the new technologies (although that's a pretty big challenge right there), but we have to learn about the problem domain, about the team and organizational dynamics, about the system itself as it stumbles to life.
But what have you ever been taught about learning? If you're like most people, probably not much. Nor are we really ever taught much about how our brains work, or how to take advantage of that. But of course, in our field, all the action is in our heads. The rest is just typing :-)
These are the main chapters in the book:
- From Novice to Expert: Use the Dreyfus Model on the road to expertise
- This is Your Brain: Linear-mode and Rich-mode cognitive processing
- Get in your Right Mind: Cultivating Rich-mode processes
- Debug Your Mind: Recognizing and avoiding cognitive biases
- Learn Deliberately: Practical techniques to learn more, faster, and more effectively
- Working with Knowledge: Managing knowledge, attention, and context
The Dreyfus model, featured in my talk Herding Racehorses and Racing Sheep, has long been a favored topic. It turns out to be a very useful way to begin to talk about building expertise, how to make the journey from novice to expert.
How we think, and how we think about thinking, makes a dramatic difference on your ability to solve problems and invent new solutions. Learning how the brain works (at least, part of it) can really help, so I'll tell you all about the Linear-mode (L-mode) and Rich-mode (R-mode) cognitive processes, how and when to use them, and how to harness more brain power. I know I can use all the help I can get.
I'll be posting more on these topics over the coming weeks, in the meantime, enjoy the first part of the book!