Keeping up-to-date

Less than 10 years ago 1% of the world population had access to the internet. Today that number has rocketed to over 40%, roughly 3 billion people. Even if only 0.01% of users have an interest in developing for the web, that's 300,000 developers!

With that many developers all working on the same platform, and thousands of them working towards bettering the web, things are bound to change. Fast.

Therefore, the question becomes: How can I, as a developer, keep up to date in such a diverse and ever-evolving industry? Personally, I do not believe there is a single correct answer to the question - as no doubt many people would agree. However, if you adopt the mind-set there are a few tasks which you can do in an attempt to stay up-to-date.

You've got to read

You could read every single article you can find which gets published. You could read every web related tweet and follow every link it may contain. You could watch every web related video uploaded to YouTube. But, lets face it, you couldn't. No one could. It's completely impractical, you would never get any real work done, plus you wouldn't gain anything from it. You would be reading hundreds of paragraphs of content by different authors of differing abilities who most likely would contradict every fact everyone else states. How then, do you know what to read?

Follow Industry Leaders

A problem shared is a problem halved. Our industry is fortunate to contain clever individuals who dedicate large portions of their time to sharing their knowledge. Try to find people who are well versed within your specific skill set and keep an eye on the content they publish. Be it their Twitter, Facebook, YouTube channels, or, personal blogs. Chances are they believe in the content they are sharing and it would be worthwhile for you to read it.

As well as this, you can also follow the people the Industry Leaders follow. Checkout their Twitter accounts and see who they are following (and retweeting/favouriting) and then follow them.

This, on its own, is a great way to help towards keeping up to date.

Subscribe to Newsletters

For some people in the industry, part of their job is staying up to date and then sharing that information. Quite a few of them publish daily and/or weekly "re-caps" of the latest industry news.

Such a newsletter, which I have subscribed to, is Versioning from Sitepoint. Every day they send out a curated email with plenty of relevant links which are worthwhile reading. They filter out the noise so you don't have to.

Attend Conferences

If you have the ability to attend conferences then definitely do. Filled with like minded individuals who are attending talks held by industry leaders is a fantastic way to learn what’s on the up and up.

Regular Self-Assessment

Every now and then, take a step back and look at what you're doing. If you find that you are feeling out of touch still, try to filter the people you follow. I would suggest re-evaluating the content you are consuming and experiment with the amount of time you spend dedicated to keeping up to date.

Who has Time?

No doubt by this point you've thought, "Fine, I could do all that - but who has the time?". I believe you don't have to spend hours every day performing all these tasks and consuming all this information. Maybe try getting to work 15 minutes earlier for the next week, and spend that extra bit of time catching up with what's going on. Who knows, within those 15 minutes you might read about a great new piece of technology which saves you hours everyday! Experiment to find out what works best for you.

There are awesome resources out there to help you do this as efficiently as possible. I use Pocket which is a great service for saving up links which you can then read at a later date. However, I know people who make use of Evernote and some who even just email links to themselves to read later.

In Review

I'm long and far away from being an expert of keeping up to date, and don't think there is a single person who is. These are just my personal opinions and the resources I've found that help me to create a balance between wasting my time and reading everything, compared to not bothering to stay up to date at all.

Fact and figures sourced from Internet Live Stats.