Reading recommendations from Jobbatical’s tech team

by Jobbatical October 25, 2016

Do Android developers dream of electric sheep? And what books do they read?

I don’t understand computers. I definitely don’t understand people who understand computers. My quest to change this started with a quick Google search when I realized I had no idea what to talk to a developer about:

I was going to type “what do developers read” but this completely derailed me.

What DO developers do for hair? Are they known for extravagant hair styles that clearly mark them as developers? Am I the only person in the world who didn’t know about this??

To my utter disappointment I learned that the search probably refers to a common term relating to general hair dyeing practices and not to a subset of particularly fashion-conscious computer programmers.

With that mystery out of the way, I was still stuck with my original question: What do developers like to read? I was convinced that this was a gateway question that would somehow, in one fell swoop, lead to a thorough understanding of the mind of a developer.

My curiosity further deepened when a coworker shared this webcomic. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. And I had no idea what any of it meant.

A joke I don’t understand? A joke I literally can’t understand without very specific knowledge? Can’t be having that. Can’t be having people running around making jokes and leaving me out of it.

Now it was personal.

Now they were taking funny stuff away from me.

Look at me. I’m the funny one now. Hilarious cat image by FotoYakov via Shutterstock

Furthermore, my work at Jobbatical involves a lot of staring at software developer job descriptions, so it would be nice, at one point, to actually understand what some of it means.

And so a decision was made:

A decision to make an effort—on behalf of the world’s computer illiterati—to get to the bottom of this computer business. Well, not all the way to the bottom. But maybe just take a quick look just beneath the surface.

Yeaaahh, that’s too far down. A lot shallower than this, please. Image by superjoseph via Shutterstock

To ease myself into it—in other words, to put off digging into the technical stuff immediately—I asked members of our tech team to recommend a book or blog that has influenced them in their life and/or work, and to add a brief explanation about why they chose it. Here are the recommendations from those who replied. Presumably the others were too busy doing interesting things to their hair.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

“It contains the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything — highly recommended.”

This blog post on The Coffee Shop Trader by Daniel Huang

“It destroyed the limits I have always set for myself and improved my time management.”

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

“It gave me a brand new and macro perspective to see the world. It also helped me to connect the dots and ideas I got from my favorite sci-fi books.”

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

“This book contributed to me going around the world with open eyes. More than anything else, it made me think about compassion, leadership, learning, unselfishness and motivated me to think differently and learn more about those things.”

Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins

“It shows us how many things we can achieve in life. That all limits are in our minds. It also teaches us how to be more empathic and understand a bit better the needs of other people.”

I’ll (probably) report back if and when I’ve read the books on this list that I haven’t already read ten times. (The exception being The Hitchhiker’s Guide, of course.)

Got reading suggestions for someone on a journey towards understanding computers and the people who understand them? Leave a response!

If you want to make recommendations to me in person, come join team Jobbatical in Tallinn, Estonia. We’re looking for a CTO!

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