Besides side projects, technical watch (reading articles, watching talks, listening to podcast) is the best way to discover new technologies, to learn useful technical tips, to improve your methodology and so on.
Technical Watch is like Devops: you have to be equipped to be efficient. The very first thing you should do to start is to install a tool like Pocket. With the app and the chrome extension you can stash and read articles everywhere.
Now, you have to find sources. Here are some examples, but feel free to ask around you what people are reading:
- Download Materialistic which is the Hackernews app. You can screen the thirty first articles of the Catch Up section which gathers the most popular articles within the 24 hours. Same approach could be done with Reddit and once you’ve chosen your topics.
- Create a Twitter account and follow the main contributor your favorite language or of a library you like. Follow the awesome speaker you saw at the last meetup or your colleague who always knows the new on-trend tool (see below). Or add my two favorite: Addy Osmani working on Google Chrome and the Dev.to blog. If someone pollutes your feed with a lot of useless information, don’t hesitate to get rid of him. A messy feed is an inefficient feed.
- Network with other developers : talk with your colleagues about their side-projects and enjoy meetups like HumanTalks to always discover new subjects or specialized meetup like ReactJS.
- Read blogs from the major tech company like Airbnb, Github, Instagram, Uber… You can either follow their Twitter accounts or subscribe to their RSS feed.
Then you should create your own routine. Book 10 minutes each day to source content. For instance, I do that during breakfast. If it takes less than 30 seconds to read, read it now, if it takes longer stash it in our favorite app. Next find a daily slot to read the articles you’ve selected. The 20 minutes in the subway are much more useful since I’ve started this routine!
It’s important to regenerate your sources often otherwise the number of interesting articles will drop dramatically.
Thus, every two months, look at the list of people you’re following on Twitter, and remove the one whom you haven’t read a tweet within the month.
If you haven’t found any interesting articles on Hackernews since 15 days, switch to Reddit.
Finally if you want to look deeper into a specific subject, books could be your best ally. That’s how Benjamin, the CTO of Theodo, learnt how to code in Ruby and that’s how I’m learning how to work effectively with legacy code.
And what about you? I would be glad to learn what your tips are to do efficient technical watch!