T-SQL Tuesday #8: How learning has changed
July 13th, 20103
T-SQL Tuesday #8: How learning has changed
July 13th, 20103

When I started my technical career, the only way to learn about programming was from books and magazines.  I remember writing my first HTML page and finding it quite similar to the Vic20 days, where you would transcribe code for hours; when you made a mistake, that meant it was time to start over.  The Internet was around, but it wasn't really all that useful just yet – there certainly was no MSDN Library, never mind blogs like this site, or interactive communities like Stack Overflow and Twitter.  Oh sure, Usenet has been around forever, and in fact my career change was due largely in part to a technical mailing list where folks shared solutions to problems in the realm of HTML and JavaScript.  But they pale in comparison to the thriving communities and other online resources we have today.

With the Internet comes responsibility, however; reading something online does not make it true.  This is why I prefer communities and interactive blogs (where you get more insight than from just one "author"), over paper books or passing some certification exam.  Those things have their merits of course; while I have never taken an MS cert exam, I still have a bookshelf — and this isn't even the whole thing — that represents a small forest, from which I glean tidbits all the time: 

In fact, just last week, I had three of these books out on my desk with about 20 new dog-eared pages.

I also think that a lot can be said about being in an environment where there are other smart people to bounce ideas off of.  This morning, for example, I learned a boatload of stuff (in comparison to what I already knew) by sitting with a co-worker for 5 minutes and going over some C# code I was re-tooling.

But in my opinion, the interactive nature of the growing SQL Server community is where people in our corner of the technical world can learn the most.  Having the perspective of so many great minds at your disposal can be an intoxicating thing… you just have to get over the nerves of asking questions of folks like, well, you know who you are.  (I don't want this to turn into an ass-kiss-fest, but there is an unprecedented number of smart folks bending over backwards to help this community.)  And it doesn't stop online … there are also free events like SQLSaturdays, paid resources such as the PASS Summit, and training courses that, while not free, can be worth every penny (I wrote briefly about Paul and Kimberly's course earlier this year).  I don't think you can say any of this about the PHP, Oracle or Flash communities – at least not with a straight face.

In the end, this installation of T-SQL Tuesday has me thinking of all the ways we learn, and how impressive it has been that the way we learn has evolved so much, even in my own relatively short career.  And with the caliber of folks donating their time, energy and brainpower into making the community better, it can only be — as Radioactive Man would say — Up and Atom!

By: Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at Simple Talk, SQLPerformance, and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a husband, a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him.

3 Responses

  1. AaronBertrand says:

    I see posts of mine going back to Jan 2, 2000.
    But I suspect that is a limitation to the archived data, not a true representation of when I started posting.  🙂

  2. mjswart says:

    Ahh, the good old days of usenet. I just checked and my first SQL question on usenet was Aug. 2004. How about yours Aaron?
    I looked at <a href="http://groups.google.com/group/rec.puzzles/topics?pli=1">rec.puzzles</a&gt; recently (which was a favorite group for some time) after years away and the amount of spam on it makes me want to cry.

  3. Robert L Davis says:

    Nice post!! I sometimes miss my Vic20. There's nothing like a good text adventure game with grue's hiding in every shadow!!