Gambling the future

About three years ago, I was hired by a company that develops a Linux distribution. I went, willingly, eagerly even. But I have to wonder, each step that is made is a bit of a gamble. Take .NET for instance. I’ve never played with it. I have no experience with it, other than reading the material that I track down. If .NET were to become the dominant development architecture, I would quickly find myself obsolete. Therein lies the quandry. How do you know which technologies to pursue? There are too many for any one person to stay current in. One could go with the path of least resistence, and just follow their career path, but that’s not really practical. One could burn themselves out trying as many things as they can, and avoid being a specialist, but that’s also not practical. So how can one figure out what to pursue, and what to leave by the wayside?

Well, here’s my myopic litmus test.

  • Is the technology open, and utilizing existing standards where applicable?
  • Is the technology applicable to a wide problem set?
  • Is there real support behind the technology, rather than just a marketing blitz?
  • Is the learning curve justified?

If you can answer yes to each of these questions, then perhaps a given technology is worth looking into. I’m sure someone has come up with a better test, and if so, by all means use it. I, however, haven’t seen it. Ultimately it’s all still a gamble. I just hope my number continues to come up.


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