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10,000 hours and the search for mastery of craft

Posted in Technology

There is a theme from a book “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell which implies you need to practice a craft for 10,000 hours to achieve mastery of a field. I was wondering if I felt that was true about my chosen field, web development or if it was even greater.

The thought is that the speed to which web development and the internet changes seems to be so cripplingly fast that I don't know if there is anyway to ever truly master it.

Just because you have not played with the latest framework, language or weren't exposed to the latest fetish -- does that mean you have not mastered this craft?

You can understand all the underpinning technologies and practices, you can have the ability to look at the latest fetish and know what it is and where it fits in. You have the ability to quickly ramp up in that new tool and understand where its benefits and drawbacks are, does that not make you a master?

I think the search for mastery is an exercise in futility, because the more you learn about something the more questions it raises. The more exposure to experts or masters in any given craft the more you learn you don't know. Thats why I dislike the words expert or master -- they make an assertion that there is nothing left to learn.

Calling yourself a master or expert is an admission that you have not seen the top of the mountain yet and that you need to do some more climbing.

In addition I think that we build our skills and crafts on the shoulders around us, when someone creates a tool or process which then accelerates others to take that tool and build on top of it, in this case whom is the master. The person whom received the knowledge or the one whom imparted it?

In the end, I don't think that people working inside of web development are excluded from the rule of 10,000 hours. It would be hard for us to look at any field and to not find innovation, maybe not as quickly as the internet changes but surely those working in the sciences or other engineering feel the same pain as we do.

An idea which you thought to be true can be replaced with a new idea or new information and that may change your entire opinion or thought process, at least I feel if you are a master at your craft that has to be true.

No matter what is Zen in the world of web development, enjoy the climb and share your experiences because one thing I know to be true, the thirst for knowledge is the lifeblood of Mastery.