Being a software developer is more of a calling than a career. No industry has more changes and disruptions than IT, and choosing the path of the developer means choosing a life full of learning and following advancements in technology. Like in the medical profession, keeping abreast of new developments is not just a nice to have, but a critical issue. The problem in the world of software development is further complicated by the fact that it’s not enough to just keep up with all the latest products (languages, tools, libraries, etc.), but staying ahead also means thinking outside the box and seeing the big picture. Ideas are what drive the industry and change the world. But with all the new products and innovations coming out every day, how are devs supposed to keep current and stay ahead of the curve?
Videos have a lot to offer but you have to practice
There are lots of tips out there for staying up to date, but we would like to focus on one channel that is often overlooked because it seems too obvious or too simple: video. When devs hear the word “video,” they usually think of programming tutorials, which do exist. These tutorials are often on a basic level and serve as an introduction to a topic or technology. This is where many experienced devs looking to advance their skills get their mistaken bias towards video. Yet video has a lot more to offer — you just have to know how to use it.
The first thing you have to learn is that sitting back and watching videos is not enough. If all you do is binge-watch tutorials, your coding isn’t going to develop much. You have to take what you learned in the video and turn it into practice. One great way of expanding your skill set is to join a coder dojo and participate in coding katas (like the ones at http://codingdojo.org/kata/).
The brief introduction provided by the video is all you need to get started and work on honing your programming skills. Plus, many videos nowadays go far beyond the basics and offer advanced tips and tricks and best practices that you can use to take your skills to the next level.
Get the bigger picture
Coding katas might be fine for many tools and languages, but for some technologies, you need to see the bigger picture to understand them and connect them with what you already know. For example, there are a lot of guides out there on how to implement machine learning, but how do you design for AI? Where is the future of AI headed, and how does it relate to your work? One way to stay abreast of the latest ideas and developments in the field of AI is by following what tech visionaries and influencers have to say about it. There is tons of free content out there like the speech AI: Tidal Wave by Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of the Cloud AI Platform at Microsoft. In just 45 minutes, you can get an insight into how one of the biggest players on the market envisions the future of AI, and what it might mean to your day-to-day work and life.
Experience beats theory
Now that we have seen some good ways to learn about products and hear about new ideas, it’s time to look at how video can lead you to projects that incorporate both. One great place for tinkering with products and testing out new ideas is GitHub. While the platform offers everything from code review and documentation to project and team management, what makes GitHub so popular among devs is the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and work on open-source projects together. But how do you know which projects to follow? One quick way to find out about interesting projects is to watch a video by one of the project team members. For instance, software developer Liad Magen’s Stay Calm – Keep Current talk provides you with an introduction to the Keep Current project, some background on the idea, where the project is headed, and how you can contribute.
One of the great things about GitHub is that there are many different ways to participate in a project or even just part of a project, and you can choose your level of involvement based on your interests and needs. Understanding the theory behind a product or idea is important, but this knowledge is worthless until you try it out. Experience always beats theory.
As you can see, the main advantage of videos for staying up to date is that they can lead you to channels where you can put what you have learned into practice. You can take a hands-on approach and join a coder dojo or a GitHub project, or you can get an insight into the future of a fast-moving technology like AI and discuss it on social media. While these virtual ways of open-source learning and participation are crucial to growing as a developer, meetups and conferences are also an important factor in staying relevant and ahead of the pack.
Where do you start? Here!
Videos can also play a key role here. For example, you can subscribe to the WeAreDevelopers YouTube Channel to see what topics and technologies industry leaders and devs are talking about and get a good idea of whom you would like to see in person at the upcoming AI Congress in Vienna in December or the World Congress in Berlin in June 2019. Create your own playlist to put you in the mood for some hardcore tech talk and networking. Check out the Official Aftermovie of the World Congress 2018 to get an idea of what awaits you in December.
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