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Holger Frohloff

Opportunity cost

2 min read

Today I heard a recent episode of the Akimbo podcast by Seth Godin. The topic was opportunity cost. As a quick recap, here's what Wikipedia has to say about opportunity costs:

The opportunity cost, or alternative cost, of making a particular choice is the value of the most valuable choice out of those that were not taken. When an option is chosen from alternatives, the opportunity cost is the "cost" incurred by not enjoying the benefit associated with the best alternative choice

So… about that new JavaScript framework. Or, about the recent addition to React name suspense… have you already taken the time to read up on it? Do you know what it does? It is supposed to change how we render things onto the page and fetch the necessary data to display.

Or did you know that in Ruby 3.0 the handling or positional and keyword arguments will change from the way it was handled in Ruby 2.7 and before? How will your code have to be changed?

And that language Rust… and Elixir/Erlang. What else didn't you yet learn? All the other developers competing for the best job probably already know at least something about those technologies, right? But I guess, you did watch the latest Netflix series.

Do you feel left behind already? What a shitty feeling. I know I do. About those tech that I wrote above… Every thing I know about those is what you can read in this email! I didn't yet take any deep dive. I don't even know GraphQL. (I wanted to add a “yet” but realized how phony that would have been. I won't learn GraphQL unil I need it on some project!)

So here's my take on all this FOMO: Ignore it. Learn fundamentals. Learn the basic building blocks of how the stuff works—and worked for last 40 years. It pays to know how a request is handled on the web. Generally. It's fun to look at the complete request cycle of the Rails framework. But you don't need it. If you can build a basic REST API you'll be fine. And if you come across a use case that requires GQL you will be quick enough to adopt it and learn it as you go.

Don't get freaked out but the lastest trends and what the cool kids think they need to learn. They are usually wrong and have been before.

Learn the basics, practice those “soft” skills like communication, articulating concepts in a way that people understand, practice your story-telling and call you mom regularly. That will help you way more than getting freaked out by the opportunity costs and all the things you might have to learn.

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