In a field that continues to rapidly evolve, staying up to date with the latest and greatest tools and techniques is essential. Complacency is simply not an option if one wishes to remain competitive and relevant in the information technology field. Not surprisingly, however, there are certain tools that we become familiar over time, through repeated use and practice. There is nothing wrong with this, as familiarity with certain tools or techniques allows for more accurate estimations about work, and helps to limit risk. In Hoover and Oshineye’s Apprenticeship Patterns, they present a pattern that helps software apprentices deal with the complexities of complacency titled Familiar Tools.
In the Familiar Tools pattern, Hoover and Oshineye start out by acknowledging how valuable it is to have a set of tools that you feel comfortable using. Not only does this make you more valuable to employers, it makes the work easier and more valuable to the developer as well. From increased productivity to more accurate estimates, familiarity is important in the progression of a software craftsman.
Although the word is never explicitly mentioned, this pattern also seems to issue a warning about complacency. Hoover and Oshineye caution apprentices from becoming too set in a narrow range of familiarity, as that puts them at more risk for becoming irrelevant should the popularity or usefulness of those familiar tools fade.
This pattern was pretty easy for me to appreciate, as I already enjoy learning and improving through personal and professional development. Perhaps this desire to stay ahead of the curve is part of the reason that I became interested in the field to begin with. I have always enjoyed staying up to date with the latest and greatest gadgets, trying out beta builds, and experimenting with technology. Although the context is a bit different in the Familiar Tools pattern, the idea is very similar. The quote by Eric Hoffer that is included in this pattern also spoke to me, it is, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to love in a world that no longer exists.”
When entering the computer science program three years ago, it was repeated time and time again that the material that I would learn in college will likely be outdated by the time I am entering the workforce. While this is simply a fact of the computer science field, I feel that I am doing well at keeping myself informed and appreciate the efforts by my educators in keeping my education relevant and valuable in a rapidly changing world.