How I (Try to) Keep Up With Technology

Technology is overwhelming to keep up with most of the time. Many ask me how I manage to keep up with the many areas of technology I find myself covering day to day.

The key is finding balance between what areas are relevant to your work (if that is where you are looking to apply your knowledge), where your interests lie, how you consume information (eg. audio vs. written word) and of course, how much time you have to consume information.

Most of the people I work with have very little extra time to read up on topics, or spend hours a week teaching themselves new skills that aren’t immediately applicable in a job capacity. This is sometimes where I find myself.

There will be plenty of trial and error. The most important part to this process is to persevere, set goals, and don’t break them… I even have a way to keep yourself accountable of this too!

Let’s start with my daily information absorption goals and schedule. This is an example- make this your own!

I wake up at about 6:00. And start consuming information right away.

I start with my favorite overall news podcasts as I get up, make breakfast and coffee, shower, etc. These include New York Times The Daily podcast and BBC’s Global News Podcast. While neither of these appear to be explicitly tech related, you would be surprised how often global news events can be tied to technology events and advancements…

These podcasts also require the least amount of focus when being consumed, which is conducive to first waking up, especially if you are not a morning person like yours truly…

I then move into my tech news podcasts. I will start with WSJ’s Tech News Briefing- all very short episodes. At this point I am usually dressed and ready to sit down and start my work day… almost.

This podcast is quick… requires a bit more attention than the last iteration.

I have a daily routine with small tasks that I complete every morning… no matter what.. before I go to work or start on work.

This isn’t yet another Medium article about how habits make productive people… but it also might kind of be one of those articles.

I make it a goal to read at least one Medium article a day. If you don’t have a Medium account… shame on you… but also, get one set up. It is a great way to consume all types of written information, from technical hands on articles to 2–3 minute quick reads. Your home screen will also learn what you are most interested in over time, and curate what types of articles you see.

I generally pick an article that I have either earmarked to read later through perusing/ browsing, or pick an article from my home screen recommended for me.

Start with identifying topics of interest in tech that you know are interesting to you. Below are examples of topics I have earmarked and have been included in my home screen over time.

Sample topics recommended for me on Medium.

I then make it a goal and rule to listen to at least one “hard” podcast on my commute. If I am driving, this might be several podcasts in a single day.

The key here is to pick a smattering of podcasts/ information sources that may be at your level of knowledge in tech, or might be a bit of a far reach. You have to start somewhere, and it’s better to start somewhere and struggle through concepts than spend a ton of time trying to figure out where the “best” starting place is.

I have a short list of podcasts that fall into this category. It will not surprise you that most of them are data science centered. As someone who is self taught in data science, I managed to get through these from zero to barely over +1 (where I assess I am at on a scale of 1–10).

Here is a list of podcasts I am currently listening to. To view a full list of recommended ML/AI podcasts, look no further than this Medium article:

Data Skeptic. This is a great podcast for intermediate to advanced machine learning concepts.

Linear Digressions. More advanced, a lot more on the statistical/ mathematical side of ML.

Talking Machines. This seems to focus more on ML frameworks and algorithms.

I have a repository of “fun” tech podcasts that I will listen to. This usually happens at the end of my day, when my brain is too fried to listen to anything “hard” or too dense. I also will turn on one of these podcasts if I have an awkward commute (metro… to bus… to metro) and doing something like work or reading a book is not feasible.

My fun tech podcasts are lighter, cover more interesting and obscure topics- think of them as almost the People magazine for tech news.

Reset Podcast.

The first one I recently discovered called Reset. It is produced by Vox, and covers catchy tech topics that are easily consumable and translated for non-technical target audiences.

The second one is good old Cyberwire… THE podcast for any government person to receive cyber related news. This includes the latest hacks, vulnerabilities, or security related trends that the white/grey hat hacking community is tracking. It is… VERY government aimed, but easy to consume, and relatively short.

Then there are weekly goals…

Last but not least, if you have any steam left… there are weekly goals I have set for myself.

If I haven’t done this already in my regular week, I make sure I read one scholarly blog or paper pertaining to AI/ ML. This is to keep me current on a deeper level to more technical advancements in the field. I generally do this as part of my day to day job now, but just in case I don’t…

I generally go straight to the Google AI blog for this material. There are probably many other places to go for this type of material- try to find a good source to start with for whatever area of tech you might be interested in, whether it be high performance computing, software engineering, mobile application development, cloud architecture… the list of hot tech terms goes on and on from there.

And finally, how I hold myself accountable…

Get yourself a habit tracking app.

StickK
Streaks

No, seriously. Try it out. I used this list initially to get some ideas. I currently use two- StickK (where you get yourself in some sticky money-betting contracts, and you have no choice but to carry through with them…) and Streaks, an Apple design award-winning app that allows me to view my habits with pretty pictures (and satisfies the front end / aspiring designer in me).

The amount of information will still feel overwhelming, but at least now you have a head start!

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