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Ronaiza Cardoso
Ronaiza Cardoso

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How reading can make you a better developer

Have you ever had the feeling that everything has already been created by someone else? The world is big, and with the internet, we have the capacity to reach almost every piece of knowledge that has been produced by the human race.

But this has started a long time before the popularization of the internet; the sharing of information started with books. They were the first, and in my opinion, the most amazing form of technology created before. With books, you get the chance to access the minds of great people, people who dedicated their lives to learning one specific field, and we are fortunate enough that those people were kind enough to share those learnings with us.

Okay, I wonder that you are thinking something along the lines of: what is the point of all of this? How is this related to programming? Well, it turns out that programming is just a form of writing; while we are writing code, we are just talking to the computer to translate the requirements of our application to the computer.

So if we are writing things, sure enough, someone has already solved the problem that we are trying to solve, but how could we find this? Again, we are fortunate enough to have one of the major "libraries" of code open to us; we just need to read through it. Reading someone else's code is one of the main forms of learning for me. When I do that, I can understand not only the language that I'm learning/working with, but also how people who dedicated their lives to writing applications think. By reading their code, I can get a shortcut on how to solve the problems that I'm facing in a more efficient way without having to spend hours of my life thinking about that problem.

But life is not easy, and every approach has its problems, and over the years - I have been using this one for the past seven years, as a developer - I have faced some issues like: sometimes you are not able to frame your problem in a way that was solved before by someone else, and you have to figure this out by yourself. But interestingly enough, I used the principles of learning from others to create my own solution because, in the end, we, as a society, just exist because we are capable of learning from our peers. But while I was figuring things out with the learnings that I accumulated, I faced some anxiety, and those were addressed with exercises, help from friends, and psychotherapy.

Another issue that I saw people having is not being able to spend the needed time to let things work. The internet brings a lot of good things for us, but also a lot of distractions. And this approach doesn’t work with distractions. To learn by reading, you have to spare time to let things settle inside yourself. If you get distracted by your phone, you will not be able to let your brain do the work that is needed to sink that knowledge in.

Getting free from distraction and sparing time in the day to learn something is one of the foundations of a good life, a life without so much anxiety and more confidence in your endeavors.

Top comments (2)

destynova profile image

To learn by reading, you have to spare time to let things settle inside yourself. If you get distracted by your phone, you will not be able to let your brain do the work that is needed to sink that knowledge in.

That's true. I've found it helpful to convert articles I want to read into an ebook format and read them away from the computer. I use GrabMyBooks which has a browser extension, but there are lots of other tools. Years ago I used "Plucker" which produced a single file that could be uploaded to my Palm PDA containing tens or hundreds of webpages for reading.
Doing it this way, away from the computer, helps to bring about a "slow time" feeling where you're not feeling constantly under pressure to alt-tab and multitask.

One other point that seems to be more and more neglected these days is that you also need time away from activity and even from input -- just pure thinking time. Modern life has eaten into that, which means people spend less time just thinking and coming up with ideas. You can take that time back!

jaga_jaga profile image