Sunday, August 10, 2008

on the mastering of new technologies

Dorothea wrote a post to which my only reply can be "Amen, Sister!" She references a great post by Steve Lawson.

I also feel that I'm at the upper end of the technological middle ground. I'm a journeyman scripter and not really a programmer. I still have digital content production chops. My XML markup skills and metadata fu are strong. I can tell you a lot about the inner working of Fedora. I can haul out my atrophying JavaScript, SQL, and Perl skills, and dredge up my minimal PHP skills. I fondly remember my ColdFusion days, and my days employing Lingo in Director to create Shockwave apps.

I'm not really up on the tools that are all the rage these days -- Python, Ruby, Django, or even Java. I've been so focussed on managing projects that I've lost some of my technological edge. Where do I go to regain/retain it? Especially since I am no longer following a path where I spend any time writing any forms of code. I am often asked why I don't go to code4lib -- it's not exactly that I feel over my head, but I'm just not doing the hands-on thing anymore and I don't think there's much I can contribute to a conversation about Python libraries or Lucene optimization.

I'm a fan of DLF Forums. I learn a lot about what tools folks at other institutions are using. But I don't always learn enough about why they use them and what those tools are especially good for. Something I can take back to my own projects and say "Hey, let's consider this solution because it's a great fit for XYZ."

There are things I need to learn about at a pretty deep technical level, but I may never personally apply them. Where do I go for that?

And circling around to another of Dorothea's topics ... I am still too often one of the few women in the room. A recent event I attended had 40 men and 4 women. But then, I am often just the sort of woman who thinks she's not technical enough to attend such events. Perhaps I need to face my own wariness about events like code4lib and just go. And/or stand up alongside others of my kind and start another type of event.

1 comment:

Ross said...

For the record, there's really very little talk of Python libraries or Lucene optimization at Code4lib. The first one was more in that vein, but the larger it has gotten, the more mainstream the material, really.

And I would mostly attribute that to the fact that it's largely attended by people that would describe themselves exactly as you have (which is definitely a category I fall in, as well).