The smaller you are, the more you'll grow

April 21, 2013

I read a great article this weekend by Rebecca Murphy. It's not new, but is still very relevant. My favorite point was this: "Getting good at a thing involves seeking out opportunities to feel small." If you want to be good, don't let yourself get comfortable. Comfort is static. Keep shifting gears, keep tackling new things. Uncle Bob says software developers need to surf the wave of whatever language is in style now, while keeping an eye out for when to jump to the next one.

I saw a great slide deck from Chris Coyier last week, called How to Stay Up to Date on Web Technology. My big takeaways have been a shift from reading to doing. He mentions a number of weekly newsletters from great divisions of your programming skill set. These weekly check-ins are perfect: you don't get caught up in the day-to-day opinions. instead, you keep your ear to the ground, scan the headlines, and don't miss anything big. Sign up for some! My suggestions: SideBar, Web-Design-Weekly, WebDesignerDepot, and  Smashing Magazine.

This week I've been hacking away at my to do lists and saved articles. Reading won't help nearly as much as trying to build something, or going to a conference or hack-a-thon to see what you're really made of. Check out things like MeetUp and Start-Up Weekend. Like Murphy said above, put yourself out there and make yourself feel small. That's when you'll grow.

Now, some links from my week for you. Take one or both of these and have some fun.

Programming (open-sourced and otherwise) continues to build on itself, and by now there's a library for almost everything. Here's a javascript-based physics engine called Verlet (with a TERRIFYING spider demo), and here's Packery to help you achieve that modular layout you've always dreamed of. (By the way, both of these came from my weekly subscription to SideBar, mentioned above.) 

Also, if you're looking for some tunnel vision, checkout this CodePen CSS example. That's all HTML and CSS, folks. No javascript at all.

Build something! You'll be glad you did! And then let's do a hack-a-thon together.

Russell Matney

Russell Matney

Writing, Stories, Software, Indie Games


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