If you know me personally, you know I have little reservation about discussing religion or politics in a public setting. I think the idea that you should not discuss these things in “polite” conversation is an idiotic one. If we never discuss these things, how do we have any chance of understanding one another better and thus improving our situation on a political level? Reasonable discussion is the only way we’re going to better understand each other and move past much of the extremism that dominating the political culture in the United States right now. However, while I have a mild understanding of several important topics that affect today (politics, economics, philosophy), I’m not well educated enough to have the kind of discussions I’d like to be able to have. Or put another way, there are people who know more about these things and debating them sucks because I can’t counter their arguments due to my limited understanding of certain topics.
I now wish to remedy this problem. Not only to be able to bring more to these discussions I enjoy having, but I think that better understanding various topics would improve myself overall. There are lots of things I wish I understood better, and not all of them fall into the realm of political discussions. There are aspects of science I would love to be better versed in. I’d love to understand things like mechanics, electronics, and other forms of engineering better. But these topics take time to digest. You have to read, comprehend, ponder on, and eventually regurgitate the information. So I’ve come up with a plan to help me with this and I’m writing this post as both a way to tell others so they can help keep me on track, and to allow others to join in on the “fun” because I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like a better understanding in some of the topics I plan on learning.
This the plan.
Pick a subject for the year. For example, I’m picking economics for 2014. I will then find 12 books on that subject that should give me a decent understanding of various points of views, theories, and thoughts on the chosen subject. I will then spend each month of the year reading each book. The goal is to finish each book within the specified month. Again, for example, I’ll be re-reading “Wealth of Nations” in January of 2014. In February, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money”
by John Maynard Keynes. And this will continue throughout the year. While the goal is to finish each book, there’s a good chance I might not be able to read the entire book within the allotted month, should this happen, depending on how much of the book is left to read, I’ll either finish it or just move onto the next book. The idea is to grasp a decent understanding of the concepts and ideas presented in each book, not become an expert on them. In January of the following year (2015), I will then attempt to write my understanding of the various thoughts, ideas, and theories down in my own words. This is will be the proof that I at least understood the basics of what I read.
I understand that doing this isn’t going to make me an expert in the chosen subject of study but I’m almost certain to walk away with a better understanding of it by the end of the year and that’s my goal.
I then plan to do a completely different subject each year. Some possible topics I’m considering are philosophy, US constitutional law, physics, and world history.
If you’re interested in joining me on this, leave a comment, I may work on creating an online community for those of us who are interested in doing this.
Women in Technology
Before I start, I feel I should preface this with the statement of “I’m a guy” and therefore I have no personal understanding of the woman’s plight when it comes to working in the technology field or as a programmer. I can only speak for myself when I say that I just want to write good code and make the best products I can and to that end I don’t really care if you’re male or female, if you can do those things I’m all for working with you. And finally, what follows is based on the reading of several articles on this subject and some real life, face to face conversations I’ve had on this.
There’s been a lot of talk about “women in technology” lately. Most of it is centered around the discussion that there are not enough women working in technology, specifically as developers. There are miles upon miles of prose about how programming is a “boy’s club” and that we’re “sexist” or a million other insulting things about male developers. Some posts even get flat out offensive about this.
I’m not saying that these complaints and opinions aren’t completely valid. Sure, the profession has it share of idiots just like all the other professions out there. But we only seem to hear about these cases. We never hear big deals being made about men mentoring at events like Rails Girls, an event specifically about getting more women interested in programming. Or about the conference planners who actively attempt to balance out the rosters with female speakers. You don’t hear about this stuff simply because it isn’t part of the angry side of agenda.
But here’s the thing that bothers me most. When people talk about this topic, it’s usually about how there aren’t enough women in leadership positions or that a conference is being boycotted because they didn’t line up “enough” female speakers. While valid points, I have to ask, are we solving the problem or the symptom? Continue reading →