Finding cool new things to get excited about.

So how do you break out of the bubble, or as Drupal has eloquently put it , ‘get off the island’.

You look around, you experiment, you try and you test.

And it’s all on you, no one is going to put the next cool thing in front of you, put your hands on the keyboard, and say ‘do this’. You are on your own, and personally, I think obligated to make things better through what you do.

And I think you do that by continually questioning, continually learning and continually trying to improve.

How do I do that ? , you probably didn’t ask … well… I cant tell you how to, but I can explain some of what I do.

First port of call is , for me, the GitHub trending list https://github.com/trending I look at that at least once a day, usually more. I have subscribed so it emails me every day — and I read it.

Its a fascinating wonderful thing. Yes, it does suffer from the self selecting nature of popularity lists, but it changes enough (if you watch it enough) to grab your attention.

Looking at it right now, there are things on web assembly https://github.com/WebAssembly/design , a web based guitar tuner https://github.com/GoogleChrome/guitar-tuner and a really interesting sounding library from facebook https://github.com/facebook/folly that you have to dig a bit to see what it is https://github.com/facebook/folly/blob/master/folly/docs/Overview.md

That is inspiring, that is wonderful. People solving problems you may never have considered, in languages you may not use. People generating solutions that solve problems. You will struggle to find that anywhere, but heres this free resource of smart people laying it out for you to learn from.

Next, I have a battery of rss/atom feeds that I monitor via feedly.

Feedly + pocket is almost nirvana for discovering cool new things. I could list all the feeds I watch, I could provide an opml feed. But thats not the point. I think you have to build that list for yourself, you have to search , and find things that work for you. I scan feeds, and either read then, or send to pocket where I batch read/digest on either the morning, or evening commute. I’ll also use buffer / twitter in this context to push out the really interesting things. Having said all that…

heres a few brilliant places to find interesting things.

http://onethingwell.org/ — a weblog about simple useful software

http://brettterpstra.com/ — a guy that knows what he’s talking about, finds interesting things and eloquently talks about them.

http://tympanus.net/codrops/collective/ — interesting webby things, every week.

http://hackaday.com/ — what are people looking at where hardware and software interact..

I can’t remember where I heard it first, but it went something like — you cant follow every original source, but you can find people who are experts and filter their sources through their expertise. The above are all examples of that.

Finally — talk to people.

People you work with, people you live with. people you end up at the bar with at 2 am.

Understand people as best you can. How they think, how they go about their life, and how they interact with technology.

And then use that as a way to search for interesting things. Try thinking about how to solve their problems, make their life better, easier, or more fun.

Stop thinking in code, start thinking in ideas, questions, problems and solutions.

Interesting things never start with code.

Never.

Start with a problem. investigate how to solve it.

Work out how you want to approach it

and then.. and only then do you code.