On reading whitepapers

There is an ancient technique that can help you in achieving mastery in computer science. No, I don’t mean a “from zero to hero in 2 hours” kind of online course. Nope, I don’t mean a free ebook that you can get after registering to a mailing list. Oh, some kind of a certification? I don’t mean it either. What I’m thinking about, is some real mental heavy lifting. I’m thinking about reading whitepapers.

It’s funny that wisdom can hit you after some time. I still remember words of one of my lecturers, who said, that it would be more beneficial for us to go home and study on our own, rather than listening to him. The very same can be applied to complex and/or innovative algorithms, processes, approaches described in whitepapers. Consider the new and shiny CosmosDB from Microsoft Azure. It promises indexing data in any schema (using JSON as a payload format). How can you achieve it, considering a multi-tenant environment (no, you’re not alone in the cloud) and all the funky objects stored in the database? Here’s the whitepaper describing it. Is it dense? Yes. Is it not-so-easy-to-read? Yes. Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes.

We live in times, when you can often face an assumption, that we need to ship things ASAP and understand them in a fast and easy way. Whitepapers are probably the exact opposite. It takes time to learn how to read them. It takes time to read every of them. It takes time to verify and apply findings in them.

I wish you more time, more focus, more presence and strength for spending it properly.

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