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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Investing In Time and In Reading And Competitiveness

Grady Booch writes,"I'm an insatiable reader with an eclectic taste in books. Grady Booch writes, "For contemporary fiction, I enjoy Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) and Milan Kundra (The Incredible Lightness of Being); for historical function, Ian Pears (The Instance of the Fingerpost) and Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose), for science fiction/fantasy, Grant Naylor (Red Dwarf) and Terry Pratchett (Reaper Man), for spiritual, C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity) and Marcus Borg (The God We Never Knew), for political/critical, Jarrod Diamond (Collapse), for historical, Barbara Tuchman (A Distant Mirror), for anthropological, Joseph Campbell (The Hero With A Thousand Faces), for travel, Paul Theroux (The Happy Isles of Oceanis, a variety of biographies for entertainers (Harpo Marx, Charlie Chaplin), scientists (Richard Feynman, Thomas Edison), and statesmen and woman (Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher), plus works on science and mathematics (Fermat's last theory, string theory) and humor (Mutts, Doonsbury)".
On the professional side, I subscribe to Business Week, ECN, Economist, EDN, eWeek, Information Week, InfoWorld, MSDN Journal, PC Magazine, and Science as well as ACM Queue, ACM SIGPLAN Notices, ACM Software Engineering Notes, ACM Transaction on Programming Languages and Systems, ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, Communications of the ACM, IBM Journal of Research and Development, IBM Systems Journal, IEEE Computer, IEEE Internet Computing, IEEE Software, IEEE Spectrum, IEEE Transactions on Computers, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, MacWorld, MIT Technology Review, Software and Systems Modeling, Software Development, and Wired. The professional library is currently approaching 2000 volumes, a collection that omits the disposable extended documentation that constitutes most of the stuff you'll find in bookstores and instead concentrates on the core topics of engineering software. he concludes by saying, "I've read all of most of these books, most of many of them, and the juicy bits of all the rest. It helps to 1) not require much sleep and 2) be a fast reader."
Michael Hammer once wrote that to be successful, one should pursue interests in atleast two discipines - he wrote that having an interest in computer science and literature would be a good combo. How true it is in the case of Grady Booch. No wonder, Grady booch is one of the founders of the UML phenomenon.
Paul Allen writes,"My personal library now exceeds 2,000 books,My Infobase library contains 3,000 electronic texts for religious study. My subscription to High Beam research gives me access to 32 million documents from 2,800 published sources.And my e-mail inbox is filled daily with important e-mail newsletters from some of the brightest people on the planet. Paul makes insightful observations :"The paradox for knowledge workers is this: the more time you spend in gaining knowledge, the less time you have to apply it. The reverse is also true. We must strike a proper balance between learning and doing. Most people have their nose to the grindstone. Very few spend enough time, energy and money in a quest to gain and process knowledge. But maybe the Web can change this. With the Web, each of us can make a list of all the experts in our field and track their every move and their every word".With modern knowledge tools, each of us can design our own lifelong learning curriculum — including books, articles, Google news alerts, TV programs, and audio programs — and seek to become experts in our field and in our particular occupation.
Paul extends the relevance of learing to modern organisations - "Every company failure may simply be a failure to know how to not fail — how to use the right questions to increase your sales closing rate; how to get new customers from search engines; how to reduce call center costs by 25 percent with new technology; how to use open source to save millions in development costs; how to generate effective buzz; how to manufacture less expensively, and so on.Reduce your chances for failure by helping all of your employees develop their most valuable asset — their mind".

My Take:Balanced learning and doing ( whatever you call it say Think- Say- Do -Act etc..)is the way to grow - it is imposssible to expect to be a dumbo on emerging developments and expect to be contributing by focussing on transactions - monitoring emails like monitoring air traffic control towers - or taking 200 plus calls a day.. but the other extreme is more dangerous - constantly just acquiring ivory tower knowledge without constant application. I like to practice a healthy mix.. I travel a lot,have few meetings in a day - with mostly different participants, answer so many mails in a day, prepare presentations, do the regular readings.. that sometimes explains some irregularity in updates and moving this blog to a new domain.

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