Almost no one knows this, but the Seattle Public Library offers free access to two incredibly useful websites that normally cost a lot of money:
Lynda.com — offers thousands of online video courses on a wide range of topics. They are particularly well-known for their expert courses on creative professions such as 3D modelling, animation, graphic design, audio design, etc. They also offer courses on programming, professional development, and more.
Proquest: Safari Books Online — offers tens of thousands of e-books on a wide range of technical topics, including programming, game development, engineering, IT, etc. They even have non-technical topics like business, creativity, personal development, and more.
I’ve written before about how the best way to “teach yourself” anything really comes down to finding good teachers and good resources to learn from. No one’s path to mastery can consist only of Google searches to hyper-specific StackOverflow questions. Oftentimes you just need a good book or a course to introduce you to all of the fundamentals and all of the jargon of a particular field or tool.
Bookmark the above links. Then use your library card number as your username and your PIN as the password.
How to sign in on mobile:
Lynda.com — Download the Lynda mobile app for your phone, then on the login screen, navigate to the Organization tab, scroll down to the Web Portal section, and type in spl.org as the organization URL. Then login as usual with your library card number and PIN.
Safari Books — You can’t sign in using their mobile app, so you’ll have to visit their website from your phone’s web browser using the same link in step #2.
I recently wrote a new article that was published today on Model View Culture. This was my first exposure to the world of professional writing, which means that I had to pitch my piece to them, have multiple drafts reviewed by their editor, and get paid for my work.
Over the past eight months or so, I’ve become a huge fan of this publication, and I’m super honored to have my work published by them. I love how their essays look at the tech industry from an angle that you don’t really see on typical industry publications. They often discuss the industry’s culture and social problems while promoting interesting and diverse voices, opinions, and projects.
They are an independent publication with zero ad revenue, which means they only make money when you buy things from them. In particular, I love their printed quarterly subscriptions, which are also available digitally. There’s something really fun about getting a little journal in the mail that’s filled with super fascinating thoughts from awesome people who are actively working to improve the tech industry. After reading my piece, feel free to look around their site, follow them on socialmedia, and if you end up liking them as much as I do, please consider supporting their work.
To be honest, I always cringe a little when I hear someone say that they “taught themselves” how to do something. While the phrase has become a shorthand for saying “I learned this outside of the traditional classroom setting,” I can’t but help be bothered by the sense of arrogance that comes with the fact that it also seems like a shorthand for “I learned this without a teacher.”
There is always a teacher involved. Whether you learned that skill by reading books, following online tutorials, watching instructional videos, or reading articles online, someone had to create that content for you to consume.
One of the most amazing things about working in tech is that people tend to spend a lot of time either learning from others or helping others understand complicated skills. Anyone can become a “teacher” just by writing a single article or by giving a talk at a conference, and this promotes a really cool continuous-learning culture within the community.
But it worries me just how little attention we sometimes give to the teachers who create the content that we have become so dependent on for our professional development. Software engineers tend to take the availability and quality of this educational content for granted. Many people in this field describe themselves as “self-taught” rather than attributing their expertise to the individuals who they learned from.
This is a problem, not necessarily because it’s rude or self-centered behavior, but because we’re creating misleading expectations among students and upcoming engineers. We often trivialize how easy it is to learn new technologies by saying “oh yeah just do a Google search!” We act as if just any Google result is good enough to learn from, as if the quality of the educational content has no effect on one’s ability to master the material. We give off the impression that mastery is entirely dependent on our own intelligence, and so when students struggle, rather than questioning the quality of the content that they’re trying to learn from, they instead question their own intelligence and start contemplating whether they should just give up.
I personally don’t have much to say about the political and social issues that fuel the #GamerGate mess, but all of this has gotten me thinking a lot about community management. Specifically, I find myself cringing at all of the very serious community management mistakes that have been hurting the #GamerGate movement ever since it started, so I kinda just wanted to write a postmortem-like post on how it all could have gone better.
More importantly, this made me think more about how we can better manage the overall videogame community, because at the end of the day, all I really care about is whether or not people actually like being here. I think this post turned into a pretty great case for why we need more smart, tolerant, and prominent voices helping to keep our community healthy.
I gave a lot of talks at the UA GameDev Club when I was in college, but few were as good as this one. I gave this talk in the Fall of 2013, and the advice that I had to share came from the dozens of resources that I’ve read over the years, as well as my own experience in recruiting for projects and working as an intern at Microsoft.
The video player below is set to start playing at the beginning of the talk (so about 20 minutes into the recording), and the talk is about 40 minutes long.
If you want to learn more about how to get into the games industry, here are some super awesome resources that you should check out:
Sloperama’s Game Biz Advice – May or may not be starting to get out of date, but many of the articles on this site do a great job of kicking you out of the “I wanna be the idea guy” phase that most novice designers go through.