Microsoft Cloud Authors: Nick Basinger, Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, Java IoT

Microsoft Cloud: Blog Post

Developers Should Learn Why, Not Just Memorize What

Knowing what to do with the Knowledge is Wisdom

I have gotten a few emails asking why I read so many books. Simply put, I read books to learn about all the things the people who are much smarter than me recommend I do.

The one thing I learned in college is that if I wanted an A, I needed to work for it. I was not naturally smart like some of my classmates were. I am also horrible at memorization, so I had to learn why something was done and not just the formula to accomplish the task at hand.

I also learned that the more I learned the less I knew. Programming and architecture require a lot of knowledge, much more than my little brain can hold. So I read and what keep is the why something is done the way it is done. I also do my best to remember a reference to the location of what I read (which book I read it in).

This has burned me when memorization was a preferred skill over experience. I was in an interview once that had gone on for a pretty long time. Nothing technical was asked for hours. Then one of the interviewers came in and started asking very simple yet broad technical questions. The random memorization type. You know, define an assembly, list the new features in .NET 4.0, how many toes does a monkey have. Those type of questions.

My gears didn't switch, instead they locked. I could not recall the lists of things they wanted me to recall. I could actually remember the page number and the page layout the answer to one of the questions was on, but could not remember the content of the page.

It worked out for the best, the company I was interviewing with has seemed to have lost its direction. It also seemed they were interested in a road warrior, which I am no longer willing to be.

I don't feel bad about doing poorly in interviews that are just a bunch of random questions looked up by one of the interviewers 2 hours before the interview. I expect to be asked about my resume and grilled about what I have claimed to do. In the interview above not one question was about anything on my resume that day. It was one of the weirdest ones I have been on. I guess the point is, preferring memorization over understanding why something is done, does have its place in the industry, but I am not interested in those places.

I recently attended a presentation where one of the topics was the death of apprenticeship. The line of thought is that with all knowledge now available at ones finger tips, the only skill you need is to know how to use Google or any other electronic data resource. Experience no longer counts for anything.

Although I agree with this line of thought for certain jobs, I do not agree with it for Software Development (and many other professions that I am not qualified to talk about). Although I know there are a lot of developers that would disagree. There are a lot of them out there that believe all you need is Google and other people's code to succeed at developing software. Like I said above, I do agree with this line of thought, but with respect to learning the other's experience and understanding behind those code snippets they so kindly post. Just using the end result without understanding why you are using it, will come back to bite you later.

I have attended several technical review meetings over the years and sometimes I am simply left speechless when I hear something like "Now that we have the application deployed we need to talk about XXX". You can put security, logging, error handling, performance, testing, etc. in XXX. They collected all the pieces of what it takes to build the application, but no one on the team had any architectural experience to put them in place in the correct order. When I asked how they could be so far off base, I have been told … They see architecture as extra work that gets in the way of real progress.

My response is they simply don't have the experience on the team to know better. For those that have never seen architecture done correctly, they don't believe it is worth the effort. Most of those environments give a team of inexperienced individuals the responsibility to execute the architecture business cycle and they simply generate a whole lot of useless artifacts that are later viewed as a waste of time. They learned what artifacts to produce but never learn why you produce them and what the goal of producing them is. They were simply a check box on a list of "this is what is produced during the architecture process".

To me having information is knowledge, knowing what to do with the knowledge is wisdom. I see a whole lot of knowledge these days, but very little wisdom. As long as the shortcut to the end result continues to be taken, our industry is going to continue to produce garbage, but I guess that is not all bad for those of us who make a living cleaning up garbage.

More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Early Bird Registration Discount Expires on August 31, 2018 Conference Registration Link ▸ HERE. Pick from all 200 sessions in all 10 tracks, plus 22 Keynotes & General Sessions! Lunch is served two days. EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018. Ticket prices: ($1,295-Aug 31) ($1,495-Oct 31) ($1,995-Nov 12) ($2,500-Walk-in)
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...