Water-cooler talk. Workplace banter. Interview conversations. Classroom discussions. Online discourse. Evening repartee. No matter where you happen to engage in conversation, it's easy to feel left out when you don't have proper knowledge of what is going on around you. Now coming to a dynamic, complex industry like technology, keeping up with the so-called "culture" of the trade becomes even more imperative– with ever-changing trends, evolving business giants, spontaneous disruptions, and mind blowing innovations being commonplace.

At first glance, trying to become a developer or persist as one seems like it could ask a lot from you. I won't deny that. But any effort to learn something new and pursue your intellectual curiosity is worthwhile in establishing you in this industry, whether it be as a software programmer, web developer, data scientist, or whatever you decide to do. Surprisingly, the best way to get cultured with the tech industry is to utilize one of its most prized inventions: the internet. And within the internet, it's completely up to you on how to get started.

  1. Reading

There is so much information available via the written form on the internet – niche websites, blogs, community forums etc. – and they're just a few clicks away. Most of them even have the option of newsletters with articles and updates coming directly to your email inbox. Here are a few websites that I recommend to get started and keep in touch with:

  • Hacker News is a social news website that aggregates articles focusing on computer science and hacker-builder ethos.
  • Slashdot is a site whose tagline is "News for nerds. Stuff that matters". Enough said.
  • DZone is an online community ideal for software developers that covers latest trends and technologies, along with offering free resources.
  • Python Tips is for the Python fans out there. Written by college student Yasoob Khalid, the blog reaches millions of readers around the world.
  • Product Hunt is a website where you can discover the latest innovations and trends in apps, websites, and technology products and find something you could actually use or get inspired from.
  • Coding Horror is written by Jeff Atwood, one of the co-founders of Stack Overflow. He covers literally everything about programming. Check this list out for his must-read articles.
  • Joel on Software is written by another Stack Overflow co-founder, Joel Spolsky. You can find articles about software development, business, management, and the Internet here.
  • Github Explore is a way to connect with a like-minded community of programmers and developers and find out new ideas and projects.
  • CodePen is a social development environment focusing specifically on front-end development. Build websites. Share your work. Get inspired.

Pro Tip:

Let's say you're really interested but 1) don't have the time to go through all these websites or 2) don't want your inbox flooded with newsletters. There are multiple platforms out there that simplifies this issue.

  • Google Alerts, based on your chosen keywords, can be used to tell you what’s new on the web. And there’s Google News that can curate articles to your topics of interest. [All you need is a free Gmail account.]
  • Feedly is a RSS feed reader that aggregates news in specific content outlets that you decide to follow.
  • Flipboard is a magazine reader that curates news and information in topics that you subscribe to. You just have to trust Flipboard's algorithm in finding things for you.

Keywords/Topics to Follow: Technology, Computer Science, Programming, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Startups, Gadgets, Mobile Technology, Cloud Computing, Computer Systems, Web Development, Data Science


2. Listening

Someone wise once said podcasts are basically the audio version of Netflix. I could never agree more. Podcasts are highly-engaging, portable, available on-demand 24/7, and are something that Netflix definitely isn't... free. There's many tech-related podcasts out there but you have the freedom to choose from all the vast options and the flexibility to select specific episodes. Here are some of the best ones out there:

  • Talk Python To Me is  hosted by developer and entrepreneur Michael Kennedy who releases 45 min episodes weekly. He delves into popular Python packages and also the programming innovations and discoveries of software developers, data scientists, and hobbyists.
  • Podcast.__init__ is a weekly, long form podcast about the Python language, ecosystem, community, and the people that make it great. You can hear discussions with insights and interviews about the software and technology you interact with every day.
  • Python Bytes is a podcast that "delivers Python headlines directly to your earbuds". With short episodes released semi-weekly, listeners will get all the noteworthy information in the Python, developer, and data science field.
  • Codenewbie is a website that shares people's experiences from their coding journeys. Tune in for heartfelt stories, intriguing opinions, and no-filter discussions.
  • Programming Throwdown covers a variety of computer science and software engineering topics, and isn't restricted to any one programming language.
  • The Big Web Show is quite an interdisciplinary podcast that features discussions on web publishing, art direction, content strategy, and web technology. Basically "everything web that matters".
  • The Web Ahead is hosted by Jen Simmons, a graphic designer and web-developer. She engages in weekly conversations about the future of the web.
  • The Changelog podcast hosts know that open source moves fast. They urge you to keep up with their weekly episodes on hackers, leaders, and innovators from all programming languages.

3. Following

People easily generalize social media as a distraction. But it can serve as a blessing in disguise as long as you "take back your newsfeed". Customizing outlets such as Facebook and Twitter can transform them to valuable vehicles for staying up to date.

Pages to "follow" on Facebook for latest tech trends and news:

(Tip: alter preferences for each page to organize your newsfeed + notification alerts to your liking)

People that every programmer should "follow" on Twitter:

  • Wes Bos - Full stack developer and avid tweeter.
  • Kent Dodds - Out there trying to make everyone a better software engineer.
  • Jeff Atwood - Stack Overflow's co-founder's twitter account is just as cool as his blog


(specifically for the Python programmers out there...)

  • Randal Olson is a community leader in data science/machine learning. He also tweets the most beautiful visualizations.
  • Guido van Rossum is one of the creators of Python. That intro is probably enough.
  • Raymond Hettinger tweets about python tips that are pure gold.

Conclusion

Practices and uses of technology often do quickly become obsolete, that's why it's essential to be aware of the most relevant information. In my mind, the natural progression to be complete in anything (not just as a programmer) goes as follows: acquiring knowledge, building expertise, and establishing credibility.  Being empowered with knowledge– both about the foundational aspects and the fleeting moments in technology–  leads to better decisions regarding your education, personal development, professional career, and your life. And you can start now.


Experience and practice are the successors to a strong knowledge base. Check out the free courses and projects at https://thecodex.me/ to start learning and applying new programming skills.