How do you stay current with emerging technologies?

I recently received an email from a former co-worker. She was curious to know what I read/do to know what it is "trending" in the software world. I think this is good knowledge to share, and I'm also interested in what others do to keep up. Here's my response to her:

My technique for staying up-to-date is mostly reading, and attending some user group meetings. For reading, I read news.ycombinator.com, as well as infoq.com - who I now write for. DZone.com (esp. Javalobby and its HTML5 Zone) is also pretty good, as is arstechnica.com. I don't read nearly as much as I used to when I was subscribed to all of their RSS feeds and read them religiously.

Nowadays, most of my information comes from Twitter. I follow people that are involved in technologies I'm interested in. I try to keep the number of people I follow to 50 as I don't want to spend too much time reading tweets.

For meetups, most are on meetup.com these days. I'd find a couple that have technologies you're interested in (e.g. a local HTML5 meetup or Java user group) and join the group. You'll get email notifications when they have meetings.

Other than that, sometimes I do "conference driven learning". I'll pick a few technologies I'm interested in learning, submit a talk to a conference or user group, then be forced to learn and present on them when it gets accepted. It can be stressful, but it works and usually results in a good presentation because I can share the experience of learning.

One interesting thing I've realized about Twitter is I can make technologies seem "hot" based on the people I follow. If I'm following a bunch of AngularJS folks, my feed is filled with Angular-related tweets and it seems like the hottest technology ever. If I tweak who I follow to have a bunch of Groovy enthusiasts, or Scala folks, the same thing happens.

Of course, the best way to learn new technologies is to use them in your daily job. I strive to do this with my clients, but it doesn't always work out. I've found that working on open source projects and speaking at conferences can help you learn if you're in a stagnant environment. Then again, if you're not happy at work, quit.

What do you do to stay on top of emerging trends in technology?

Posted in Java at May 28 2014, 10:48:38 AM MDT 4 Comments
Comments:

I use these sources:

Posted by Jirka Pinkas on July 23, 2014 at 10:32 PM MDT #

Good advice, Matt.

Here's my two cents on staying current in a soft skill: leadership technologies. I follow the Leadership Freak blog (http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/). Dan Rockwell blogs daily, 300 words or less, with great advice for leading. Often with links or suggested books for additional reading.

I've subscribed so I get an email daily (which I actually don't find annoying) with his latest entry. I've learned a lot about new approaches to leadership, and I was even inspired enough by some of his posts to do some more research and create a presentation on mentoring for my local technical user group (Denver Open Source Users Group).

I've used what I've learned every day, and consider it a necessary complement to the hard skills that I typically think of when I hear the phrase "emerging technologies".

Posted by Dan Hillenbrand on July 23, 2014 at 10:32 PM MDT #

I simply just reading this site - I'm just a follower of your site since 2009. Also, I joined the Spring source forum in FB and bought new ebooks.

Posted by Shannon on July 23, 2014 at 10:32 PM MDT #

Twitter can be misleading depending on the people you follow, although I is a must have tool for keeping up to date !! Of course reading Raible Designs blogs is also very resourceful.

Posted by Ricardo Espergue on July 23, 2014 at 10:32 PM MDT #

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