Saturday, July 22, 2006

The value of multiple input

I was waiting for the app I was working on to build as I was listening to an old Led Zepplin tune and started thinking, what has the great bassist/keyboard player John Paul Jones been up to? A quick Google on John Paul Jones and I found his personal site at A quick look at the photos and I was surprised to see John in a picture with Nickel Creek band member Chris Thile, at a mandolin symposium (See the image below).

John Paul Jones with Chris Thile and others

For the unacquainted, Nickel Creek is a progressive, blue grass group that many would not even label as blue grass. Any way I always read of the various blues and other world music that was the influence of Led Zepplin. I also know John Paul Jones played mandolin at least on Led’s fourth album song, Going to California. The point of this post is to be aware of the value of various influences. One should resist the temptation to limit oneself to only what is comfortable. I then thought of the literary influences that were listed by futurist Alvin Toffler in a recent C-Span interview. He spoke of a array of topics on which he regularly reads. Moreover, he explicitly stated that one needs to expand the genre and subject matter of what one reads to get a better, holistic view.

How does this apply to technology and business in general and software development in particular? One general application is that inputs of various topics helps one to better anticipate the ebb and flow of the information technology market and adjust one’s direction accordingly. Secondly, and more specifically, a broader understanding of things makes one more able to understand the various business domains for which one will have to write software solutions. Finally, the understanding of various programming languages enables one to develop a broader knowledge base by applying the concepts, idioms, and problem-solving patterns of one language to another, potentially combining the strengths of two or more languages to a solution.

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