2016 Retrospective

This post has come out of a disqus comment I wrote on the Coding With Empathy 2016 retrospective. Go there for Pavneet’s own retrospective and further commentary.

An early highlight was working with Jon Skeet, Poul-Henning Kamp, Dan Abramov and Erik Dietrich on an article about Creativity, Productivity and the Future.


Around the same time, Shawn Rakowski and Dave Rael invited my onto the My Life For The Code and Developer on Fire podcasts.

I joined the Developer On Fire Facebook Group and got to know Pavneet Singh Saund and many other great guests from the show.

Personality and Empathy

One of my first questions was about the personality types of other guests.

We soon found that, in terms of the Insights Discovery simplification of Myers-Briggs, we were polar opposites – myself introverted thinking and Pavneet was extroverted feeling. According to Insights Discovery, we each have the personality types that are most likely to clash with one another.

Several months ago the word “empathy” did not have much meaning to me. It appeared to me to be very abstract and quite detached from practical value and action. I have come to appreciate a couple of key lessons.

Firstly, making connections with people who appear to be different from ourselves tends to be the most effective way to learn and grow.

For example, I hold truth among my highest values, but without the ability to communicate and explain truths to others in a way they empathize with, they are largely inconsequential.

Secondly, we often find that we have far more in common with other than we first realize. Often our differences are actually very small in reality but we make the mistake of focusing on our differences rather than our similarities.

The greatest challenge of our times

On that last point, I think that is why I have been so concerned with the rise of far right politics recently: our differences are being greatly magnified and used as a tool for dividing us further. This is going to be a massive challenge for us in 2017 and I fear that things will get much worse before they get better again (and I very much hope that I am wrong about this).

I have never been very interested in politics, but I studied enough history to have a reasonable idea of some of the things that have been going on this year.

There are many useful areas to study, and one that I will call out as a neglected area is the history of Berlusconi. There has always been a lack of media coverage about him in the United States of America. It’s also important to understand the weaknesses of democracy as they have been repeatedly exploited over the last two thousand years.

Recently I have begun to get involved with Effective Altruism and that is bringing me into contact with many good people that remind me that there is still much hope for the world.

Having the right attitude makes all the difference.

Yearly Goal

On the work side of things, in October I decided to abandon my quest to complete 12 paths in 12 months. I could have done it, but the risk/rewards for doing it weren’t worth the cost. I am still proud to have reviewed more than 70 courses on my blog this year.

Blog Posts

I published many more blog posts this year than in the previous two years combined. Of these, there were two posts that have been far more popular than the rest and I regard both of these as cases of standing on the shoulders of giants.

The second most popular was Choosing a JavaScript Framework. I would not have been able to do this without the prior work Rob Eisenberg had put into it. I aim to keep updating this article and keep it current.

However by far the most popular post of the year was The legacy of Pieter Hintjens.

This was actually one of the easiest blog posts I have written (literally wrote it in a few minutes before getting ready for work in the morning).

It made me realize often the simplest of messages resonate much more with people than complex and detailed posts. Above all though I think it is a testament to how great a man Pieter Hintjens was and how much he is loved to this day.

Plans for 2017

In 2017, I aim to continue reviewing courses and make the ultimate resource for Pluralsight subscribers looking to get a quick idea of what courses are really about before taking the plunge on any one of them.

Investing 4, 5 or in some cases as much as 12 hours in a course is a high one, so I think it is important to give everyone as good an idea as possible about what it covers so that they know the course is for them.

I will also be doing more articles for Simple Programmer and Outlier Developer. I may help on one or two open source projects for charity.

Beyond that I want to conserve some free time for myself so I am free to decide what I would like to do at the time.

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