I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Dive Deep

I did not get into buying music until the CD age, when I was a teenager. I bought a few discs over those initial months. Most were embarrassing, but I loved spinning them. It was that time in my life when I really started discovering things for myself. I listened the crap out of those albums.

A friend was over and we were listening to one of the contractual-obligation Prince albums. I wondered aloud why anyone would ever buy a new album for his collection before he had fully experienced all of the existing albums he owned. I really felt it was an obligation for a consumer. Give that album a chance. Know which track number goes with which title. Heck, know all the titles. In fact, know all the lyrics, too!

Jump to the 21st century and you find me a collector. Over the past decade I’ve collected CDs, DVDs, books and magazines. You name a consumable and I’ve probably overbought it. As the decade rolled to a close, I figured out how to curb my habit of buying “stuff,” but that did not stop me from continuing to collect.

My new collection was trivial knowledge. Yeah, I’ve heard that band. Granted, only one time on Rdio and I remember nothing beyond the band’s name. Sure, I know about optimistic locking in Rails. Come to think of it, I know that it is a thing, but I haven’t done even cursory reading about it. Yes I’ve heard of books. No I don’t read them. I’m too busy on Twitter and reading blog posts.

Welcome 2011, home of my new goal to spend more time diving deep. A breadth of trivial knowledge is great, but it doesn’t take commitment. It doesn’t take depth of thought. It takes skimming. There are deeply considered blog posts out there, but I don’t think I deeply consider them while reading the information.

I now spend most of my time on Rdio listening to an album a few times. It helps me realize things that I didn’t know about my musical tastes. For instance, I actually do like Vampire Weekend. Entire albums of Vampire Weekend.

I’m reading books again. I’m doing more technical reading. I’m taking notes on the technical reading. I’m reading in depth about things I’ve been ignoring for years now.

It’s actually pretty awesome, breaking the cycle. The modern age is wonderful. No, I’m not going to give up Twitter or blogs or any of that stuff. Being smarter about my relationship with that information is what I need. Making it a habit to dive deep in all aspects of my life is a great way to enforce this behavior.