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Caffeinated Coder A Grande, Triple Shot, Non-Fat Core Dump by Russell Ball

Jeff Atwood recently wrote a blog post on Informavores that uses a food foraging metaphor to describe typical web usage behavior. According to this analogy, the ultra short attention span of most web users is not due to laziness or cultural ADD, but has more to do with an innate survival instinct that leads us to try to get the maximal benefit for the minimal amount of effort. With billions of pages of content and sophisticated search algorithms that are spookily accurate, it just doesn't make sense to spend time on pages with a 'weak information scent' when the information we want is likely on the next result page for a fraction of the effort. So the next time you start feeling guilty about hitting the back button within seconds of the page loading, remember that your itchy trigger finger may not stem from a character flaw but rather an appropriately unforgiving predatory instinct. Now, if only I can come up with an equally flattering metaphor for TV channel surfing...

Along the same lines, I've been thinking about a few common pitfalls that I've noticed myself and other developers fall into that I'll call Informavore Traps. Here's a short synopsis of a few anti-patterns of information foraging that I think tend to stunt our professional growth as developers and keep us low on the alpha-geek food chain.

1.     Self-Imposed Boundaries - These are unnecessary mental filters or borders that we construct in our minds that severely restrict our hunting territory.

2.     Indulging in Information Junk Food - This is the tendency to stop consuming knowledge on a subject once we establish a command of buzzwords and recycled blog opinions.

3.     Jack of All Trades, Master of None - This refers to the tendency to spend too much effort on gaining a wide breadth of knowledge and not enough time to become an expert in a particular field.

I'll discuss my thoughts in detail on each of them during the next blog posts,


Posted on Monday, June 25, 2007 7:29 AM Becoming A Better Developer | Back to top

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