I just read Eric Sink’s ‘Career Calculus’ post that is making rounds on the blogs I frequent.  I’ll admit that when I first read it, I felt quite smug.  I thought to myself, “I’m always learning new stuff, always curious.  I read about interesting new research going on, I follow the actions in my industry, and I follow a variety of programming resources religiously.”

Further reflection, though, led my thoughts to a more complicated, and perhaps less complimentary, picture.  You see, much of the things I read, don’t directly support my career – I’m just interested in them.  I rarely find an article in Scientific American that seems directly relevant to software testing – but I find them fascinating none the less.  I read a lot of science fiction; a technical text, or even a biography, would likely be more immediately useful in the cause of improving my salable skills.  Having been hooked as a child, though, I doubt I could give up my scifi if I tried.

So there are all different kinds of things to learn, and ways of learning them.  Eric’s article refers to ‘learning’ as a singly-dimensioned variable, but it seems much more complex.  One could perhaps make the case that Eric is specifically referring to learning that directly supports career skills.  Maybe that is what he meant.  I know, however, that I would be a terribly unhappy tester if I tried to limit my curiousity and my learning to only those spheres of information that directly touch on the skills and art of software testing.