The Anatomy of an Expertise
Ben Halpern Aug 30 '16
Not too long ago, I had not thought much about Content Delivery Networks. Some time before that, I had never even heard the phrase. A Content Delivery Network, CDN for short, is defined as "a globally distributed network of proxy servers deployed in multiple data centers", but the technical definition is not as useful to me as my conceptual understanding of it as a technique for cutting down on network latency. I started learning about CDNs as I became curious about web performance and ascertained that they were a critical piece I had taken for granted before.
It fascinates me that, as I learn more and become more interested, I find myself doing extra research into the barriers of this technology, learning how high-frequency traders take some of these concepts to their absolute extremes, reading about networking history such as the first telegraphs, and piecing together what is becoming an expertise in the subject. That word makes me nervous, as I still am very early in this process, too early to know if I will stay motivated to go deeper or eventually lose interest and become fascinated by some other concept. I am not a yet a expert, not even close, but I am rounding into one gradually. I am using my interest in the subject to dive more deeply into other technical concepts like peer-to-peer networking and thinking about that technology in ways I could not have appreciated without a compounding accumulation of prowesses.
I do not know what my future holds, but I as I learn more, I come up with my own opinions about networking possibilities, and possible innovations. At my present stage, I do not have the know-how to differentiate between clarity and naiveté and I will need to do much more research before any of this solidifies. When I take a moment to appreciate my current wisdom and contrast it with my past and potential future, it takes my breath away. My past-self was wholly uninterested in everything I am describing here, and yet now it fascinates me. I am privy to the continuity of the whole situation which lets me make sense of it all, but fundamentally it is wild how new learnings can break down mental barriers.
A past self would also have jumped right into the "making" part of this whole equation. I have, however, matured to the point where I would rather apply new information to my current problems and be okay with letting the future unfold in a more tempered manner. I already have a lot going on and I cannot jump head first into the vast ocean of networking technology. But I can keep learning, keep being fascinated and grow my knowledge in ways that will allow me to reflect like this again in the future.