Creating Passionate Users: The myth of “keeping up”

Kathy Sierra, who blogs at Creating Passionate Users, has written a nice reminder of the dangers of the “myth of keeping up.” As Gardner points out in a recent comment, you know you’re engaged in an exercise in futility when your “books I have to get list” is longer than your open loops list:

I need to get that GTD book, but my “get that book” list is even longer than my open loop list … some days it really does feel like a never-ending downward spiral.

The first step (sound familiar) is to acknowledge that no one really keeps up:

So… it’s time to let that go. You’re not keeping up. I’m not keeping up. And neither is anyone else. At least not in everything. Sure, you’ll find the guy who is absolutely cutting-edge up to date on some technology, software upgrade, language beta, whatever. But when you start feeling inferior about it, just think to yourself, “Yeah, but I bet he thinks Weezer is still a cool new band…

There are some specific suggestions for beginning professionally responsible and still getting out from under pressures of feeling that you have to keep up with everything.

  • Find the best aggregators
  • Get summaries
  • Cut the redundancy!
  • Unsubscribe to as many things as possible
  • Recognize that gossip and celebrity entertainment are black holes, including Slashdot and the Guardian.
  • Pick the categories you want for a balanced perspective, and include some from outside your main field of interest
  • Find a real living breathing person who help you sort out what you need to know from what’s nice to know and what exists only on the edge cases.

The Creating Passionate Users bloggers are all authors of Head First books (http://www.wickedlysmart.com), a “brain-friendly” set of programming books from O’Reilly. According to the web site, “they’re all passionate about the brain and metacognition, most especially–how the brain works and how to exploit it for better learning and memory.”