We Are All Professors

Some people write books. Some do not.

Some people blog. Some do not.

Some people tweet interesting and important things. Some do not.

Some people present ideas at conferences. Some do not.

At some point along yesterday’s Pittsburgh Tech Fest 2012, it occurred to me that there are many reasons to attempt or perform the aforementioned items.

The one that matters however, doesn’t get much airplay.

The transfer of what you know, so that others may benefit, so that the whole of software development may benefit, is important work that we should all have an interest in.

We all have experiences both good and bad. We all have some grasp of our job, hobby, or love; however you might describe why we develop software. Sharing those experiences in a way where others get a benefit is important for both the receiver and the sharer as well.

First, let’s stop and clarify where I’m starting from.

@DocOnDev kicked off yesterday’s events with a keynote around being an excellent developer. Talking about the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, Doc mentioned that most people peak somewhere in the early middle of the five stages: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent, Proficient and Expert. Later on, someone else mentioned that it seemed that couldn’t be the case, and that it appeared to them that most people were peaking at around Advanced beginner and never pushing to go further.

Many of the characteristics around these stages are based upon creative thinking, problem solving and abstraction.

One key thing that is missing perhaps, is the person’s ability to transfer knowledge. If you think about it, your ability to transfer what you know is key to leading your team forward, pushing your own self to property understand the subject at hand, and push forward the state of software development at large as well.

Perhaps that last bit comes off a bit bold. Is it?

Why do some people produce a lot of the material in software development and a lot of people stay absolutely silent?

If you research a topic, present it in a fashion where it is interesting, and give me a reason to care about why this topic is important, you’ve done me a great favor. The more something is interesting, the stronger the call to move up the communication chain becomes.

An IM becomes a tweet. A tweet becomes a post. A post becomes a presentation. A presentation becomes a book.

Most likely, my work in the following week will take me in different directions and expose me to things I’ll have to research as well. If I research it well enough, and I understand it well enough, should I share? How should I share?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. They are not the same for every person. I will say that I think you should try. If software development isn’t just a job to you, I certainly think you should try.

Professors are bound to produce some amount of research during their lifetime. Should we do the same?

If you care about this great field that we work in, you should try to share what you’ve found, and your and push people forward. This is particularly true when you’ve found something new, found a new way to say something, or found something you just needed to say.

Of course, there are many ways to share, many ways to be a knowledge transfer agent. You could write a book. You could blog. You could tweet. You could just IM people you think need to know.

There are some people I know that should write. These are the people who mention x, and I’m off taking time to check x out, because I know they have done their homework.

I would call these people out right here, but they already know who they are.

There are many people on my Twitter list that when they say something, I normally go check that thing out. I hope you know how much I appreciate your sharing! I hope everyone has an overload of sources of interesting things to look at and takes some time to do so.

So, in the next 12 months, I’m going to make a stronger effort to deep dive on some things and share my findings. I hope you do too, because in the end, we all benefit from the exchange.

It is hard.

Sometimes it feels like you’re talking to yourself.

It must be tried.

Professors with no research get no tenure.