Playing Catch-Up

Early in my career, I prided myself on my ability to absorb a lot of information and stay up-to-date on programming tools and techniques. I learned C++ before any of my colleagues did, and knew more about its intricacies than they did. I implemented ActiveX control containers before most people knew what "ActiveX" or "COM" was. I dug into CORBA. I played around with Java 1.0.

In short, I liked being an expert on new stuff. I enjoyed being on the bleeding edge. I liked being able to answer everyone's questions.

However, now I find myself on the other side of things. I'm bringing myself up to speed on some relatively "old" stuff: Java, JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). It sometimes feels like I'm the only person who doesn't already know this stuff, and I'm not comfortable being the newbie.

There are benefits to jumping on the bandwagon late. For example, JavaScript actually works now, and most people have browsers with decent implementations of DOM and CSS. A lot of that J2EE silliness has quietly faded away. I can take advantage of lots of libraries written by experienced people, and there are plenty of people who can answer my questions.

Still, I'm nagged by the feeling that I'm behind, and won't ever be able to be one of the foremost experts or significant contributors to the communities. Maybe someday I'll be mature enough to accept that, but I'm not there yet.