In this article, I discuss the value of timeless concepts. Concepts that stand the test of time.
For many years during my career as a software engineer, I've constantly discovered new concepts and ideas. Many of those are still relevant today. Unfortunately, many more have faded into oblivion.
What are timeless concepts
Timeless concepts are ideas that remain true over a long period of time. They stand the test of time, and are generally backed by scientific studies and/or years of pratice.
When considering software development, timeless concepts are elements such as:
- Programming styles
- Compiled vs interpreted languages
- What is a virtual machine
- The CAP theorem
- The value of simplicity
- What makes good code
- How to comment code
- Design principles
- What is a protocol
There are countless examples like those. Ideas that are valuable to know about/understand or master.
Exchanging our precious time for more value
When we invest our time to learn something, we trade the most precious resource we have to acquire (hopefully) valuable knowledge. It is in our best interest to learn the right things right.
We have to be thoughtful and carefully evaluate how valuable concepts and ideas are. Having wasted many days of my life learning about meaningless technical details, I can attest that it is of the utmost importance to be more careful about what we want to learn.
Timeless concepts are safe bets
Timeless concepts are safe bets in the sense that learning about them is almost certainly bound to provide good returns on investment. For instance, learning about AI and Deep Learning today make a lot of sense, as there are many evolutions in that field, and there's bound to be more in the future. Understanding how something that is going to deeply impact society works is very valuable.
In the same way, understanding and being able to make connections between different concepts in related fields is an excellent way to become an expert in a field, and to be able to act as a "bridge" between experts working in different domains. For instance, when I started working in IT infrastructure, knowing a lot about software development and DevSecOps helped me do a better job and enabled me to help infrastructure teams to embrace better coding practices (among other things).
Identifying timeless concepts
One major challenge when exploring a field is to identify its timeless concepts. One way is to start with things that have been around for 10+ years and haven't been proven wrong or heavily criticized. Those have good chances to be timeless concepts. They may be invalidated later on, but for now, they're probably good investments.
Of course, one challenge that remains is how to prioritize your learning between different timeless concepts, but that's kind of a learning luxury. One approach there is to go from first principles. By identifying ideas/concepts that have no or very few dependencies, you can learn the basics and go from there.
IT Concepts Wall
After spending many years exploring and thinking deeply about software development and IT in general, I've decided to write the Dev Concepts series, a collection of 12 books. While preparing the outline and the books, I've started collecting interesting resources and inspiration.
I've accumulated thousands of resources that I will use to help me. Those are key timeless concepts that I have identified in the field and that I consider worth the time investment.
I have organized those to match the different books of the collection, and have regrouped those in a huge board. If you're learning about IT and/or software development, then the IT Concepts wall is an awesome place to start your journey.
If you want to go further, check out my other article on this topic.
Hello everyone! I'm Sébastien Dubois. I'm an author, founder, and CTO. I write books and articles about software development & IT, personal knowledge management, personal organization, and productivity. I also craft lovely digital products 🚀
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