- Series: Pragmatic Programmers
- Paperback: 252 pages
- Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (November 7, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934356050
- ISBN-13: 978-1934356050
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 90 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers) 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
Where We’re Going
Every good journey begins with a map, and ours appears in the front portion of this book. Despite the linear flow of a book, these topics are entwined and interrelated, as the map shows.
After all, everything is connected to everything else. But it’s somewhat difficult to appreciate that idea with a linear read of a book. You can’t always get a sense of what’s related when faced with countless 'see also' references in the text. By presenting the map graphically, I hope you get the opportunity to see what’s related to what a little more clearly.
With that in mind, the following is roughly where we are headed, despite a few side trips, tangents, and excursions on the way.
Journey from Novice to Expert
In the first part of the book, we’ll look at why your brain works as it does, beginning with a popular model of expertise.
The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition provides a powerful way of looking at how you move beyond beginner-level performance and begin the journey to mastery of a skill. We’ll take a look at the Dreyfus model and in particular look at the keys to becoming an expert: harnessing and applying your own experience, understanding context, and harnessing intuition.
This is Your Brian
The most important tool in software development is, of course, your own brain. We’ll take a look at some of the basics of cognitive science and neuroscience as they relate to our interests as software developers, including a model of the brain that looks a lot like a dual-CPU, shared-bus design and how to do your own brain surgery of a sort.
Get in Your Right Mind
Once we have a better understanding of the brain, we will find ways to exploit underutilized facets of thinking to help encourage better creativity and problem solving, as well as harvest and process experiences more effectively.
We’ll also take a look at where intuition comes from. Intuition, the hallmark of the expert, turns out to be a tricky beast. You need it, you rely on it, but you also probably fight against using it constantly, without knowing why. You may also be actively suspicious of your own and others’ intuition, mistakenly thinking that it’s 'not scientific.'
We’ll see how to fix that and give your intuition freer reign.
Debug Your Mind
Intuition is a fantastic skill, except when it’s wrong. There are a large number of 'known bugs' in human thinking. You have built-in biases in your cognition, influences from when you’re born and from your cohort (those born about the same time as you), your innate personality, and even hardware wiring problems.
These bugs in the system often mislead you by clouding your judgment and steering you toward bad, even disastrous, decisions.
Knowing these common bugs is the first step to mitigating them.
Now that we’ve gotten a good look at how the brain works, we’ll start taking a more deliberate look at how to take advantage of the system, beginning with learning.
Note that I mean learning in the broadest sense, covering not only new technologies, programming languages, and the like, but also your learning of the dynamics of the team you’re on, the characteristics of the evolving software you’re building, and so on. In these times, we have to learn all the time.
But most of us have never been taught how, so we sort of wing it as best we can. I’ll show you some specific techniques to help improve your learning ability. We’ll look at planning techniques, mind maps, a reading technique known as SQ3R, and the cognitive importance of teaching and writing. Armed with these techniques, you can absorb new information faster and easier, gain more insights, and retain this new knowledge better.
Gaining experience is key to your learning and growth—we learn best by doing. However, just 'doing' alone is no guarantee of success; you have to learn from the doing for it to count, and it turns out that some common obstacles make this hard.
You can’t force experience either; trying too hard can be just as bad (if not worse) than slogging through the same old motions. We’ll take a look at what you need to create an efficient learning environment using feedback, fun, and failure; see the dangers of deadlines; and see how to gain experience virtually with mental grooving.
Managing your attention and focus is the next critical step in your journey. I’ll share with you some tricks, tips, and pointers to help you manage the flood of knowledge, information, and insights that you need to gain experience and learn. We live in information-rich times, and it’s easy to get so swamped under the daily demands of our jobs that we have no chance to advance our careers. Let’s try to fix that and increase your attention and focus.
We’ll take a look at how to optimize your current context, manage those pesky interruptions better, and see why interruptions are such cognitive train wrecks. We’ll look at why you need to defocus in order to focus better in the mental marinade and manage your knowledge in a more deliberate manner.
Finally, we’ll take a quick look at why change is harder than it looks, and I’ll offer suggestions for what you can do tomorrow morning to get started.
I’ll share what I think lies beyond expertise and how to get there.
""I've recommended it to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me. I was familiar with some of the ideas and techniques from my various readings on the science of learning, but its invaluable to have them gathered in one concise book, especially one geared towards developers.""--Dr. Paul V. Gestwicki, Professor & Director of Undergraduate Programs, Ball State University
""I've always been looking for something to help me improve my learning skills, but i've never found anything as effective as this book.""--Oscar Del Ben, Software Developer
""Absolutely terrific! I'm only beginning the 3rd chapter and I've already found the book VERY, VERY useful. It makes me look at what I am doing and how I do it in a different light.""--Carol Saah, Java Software Developer
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Top customer reviews
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This book offers a great deal more than a common "how to" book in that Hunt provides a great deal of context associated with the topics that he covers. With many direct references to other books and material, I found myself noting a lot of the books that Hunt references as books for future reading.
Anyone with a desire to maximize the manner in which they think and learn, or a desire to understand these processes better, stands to benefit from this book. Highly recommended due to its real-world uses and implications, combined with its rich and interesting historical content.
I strongly recommend this book, especially to anyone who is serious about becoming a better learner.
This book makes do a manual, even not being as pratical as I expected. Buy it, you'll enjoy it.
There is some good abstraction about how our brain is built with some interesting observations. There are also some good insights about learning and expertise in general.
On the other hand this books gives little pragmatic advices. I cannot think of many practical things I now do better than before I read this book. Mmmm... Mind Maps are nice, but not a "big deal". Dreyfus model is insightful but not revolutionary.
I guess this book and its ideas are a bit premature. Maybe a second edition in 5 years from now, after a lot of feedback to Andy about these ideas, can be titled "pragmatic".
For now, I recommend reading this interesting and relatively unique book - but don't expect it to change your life.
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I'm leaving 5 stars but I'm not paid for this nor do I get items for free.