One Book Per Month

It is very difficult for a professional to understand all new technologies.

A professional that does not understand new (and not-so-new) technologies loses important opportunities.


One should read at least one good technology-related book per month.


Does "technology-related book" mean FooOneOhOneInSevenDaysForDummiesInaNutshellSuperBibleUnleashed, or does it mean StructureAndInterpretationOfComputerPrograms? Or perhaps TheDesignOfEverydayThings? Or even NotesOnTheSynthesisOfForm?

Yes. You should read anything that improves your understanding of technology. -- BrentNewhall

Observation: PaulGraham makes a good case for not learning every new technology that comes your way. For example, he never bothered to learn VRML when it was the hot new technology. And now, he doesn't have to.

  [One day, you will wake up dead, and then -- with hindsight -- you didn't "have to" do anything!] 

Another observation: FooOneOhOneInSevenDaysForDummiesInaNutshellSuperBibleUnleashed will often have a net negative effect on the readers' understanding.

On the other hand, reading one book per month will not result in learning every new technology. Reading one book per month allows the reader to focus on certain technologies. How many books do you need to read before you have truly mastered something?

I think you can't master anything by reading books. A book may introduce and create a motivation. But then you have to put your hands on the technology. Maybe this way: a book may help you to master something - if you write it. -- HelmutLeitner

How about "Read one good technical book per month."

One has to read all kind of books to know bad from good. When you'll know you could apply decimation.

I can't remember the source (Luke) for certain, but it's probably SteveMcConnell who suggested that technical knowledge has a very short half life (half of what you know today will be useless in 2 years time) whereas professional knowledge (e.g. code reviews, design principles) has no half life. Therefore you ought to put as much emphasis on the latter as the former. -- PhilStubbington

In the foreword to the book PaperPrototyping, JakobNielsen cited ScottMcNealy: "Technology has the shelf life of a banana". -- AlbertBrandl
"will often have a net negative effect on the readers' understanding"

This is based on what objective research? And why would it be "often". How can you prove that the addition of information to ones mindset will result in "negative effect"? What exactly do you mean by this? The readers of the type of book, not usually being ComputerProfessionals?, are being exposed to technical information which was "black box" before they read anything about it. Are you saying that to have some understanding is worse than having no information?

What reading about computing would reverse what you call a "negative effect"?
What about re-reading the classic books among the reading recommendations for points that you might have missed in your first reading, or that may be more relevant to your current situation? What about reading one of the books that was hot a while ago (pick up a cheap copy from a used bookstore), and note what's still relevant, what's not, and what may be relevant but no longer a currently recognized insight? What about reading with a hot discussion with the author in the margins -- noting areas for further exploration or where the argument seems weak?
For reading recommendations, see GreatSoftwareBooks and GreatBooksAboutSoftware


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