Lately I have been wondering: if there is too much information everywhere, how do we know what to get, how to filter it and what to make out of it? (just imagine a chicken, swimming in a sea of all kinds of seeds – corn, sunflower, rye… how does the chicken choose? )
So, when you have so many options to get your information from, where do you go and why?
For example, there are plenty of paid sites, which provide expensive training, for example SSWUG, Addskills and so on. There is nothing wrong with paying for knowledge, as long as you think you are getting good value for your money. (Remember what Hurst said: “Things are worth as much as people are willing to pay for them.”). On the other hand, affordability can be seen differently: for some people in some countries $1,000 for a conference may be “peanuts money”, and for other people in other countries it may seem as a “highway robbery”. Again, it is a personal decision, based on “gain per $”.
Another way to get knowledge is to attend a pricey conference, like SQL Bits, for example, or even SQL PASS. See above. Great networking, great people, at a great price. (The “greatness” is yet again subjective – it depends on how much you are willing to spend and how much you can gain from it. )
Yet another way to get your knowledge is to research and get free training online – there are plenty of materials – white papers, videos, tutorials. Brent Ozar, for example has done a tremendous and impressive work on giving “too much information” (as he calls it) about SQL Server (here are Brent’s SQL Server articles and here are his videos). Another good site for free tutorials would be Tim Chapman’s SQLServerNation.com blog. Another good place for knowledge is Pinal Dave’s articles and the SQLShare.com training videos.
One can get plenty of information by reading MSDN and Books Online. (but what about the undocumented “dark side” of SQL Server?! )
Get a few books… The following few books are a great starting point, and your boss should be more than happy to buy them for you:
- Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals
- Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting
- Microsoft Transact-SQL: The Definitive Guide
The books above should be plenty to start you on the right track of SQL Server.
You just wait for your colleagues DBAs to bring up a subject and you ask them questions about it and this way you learn new things. Well, this is also an option – I have seen it applied more often than I would like.
Maybe something else.
It is plenty of hard work to swim in the sea of information and to choose what gives you the best ROI, what is good and what is not. I have personally seen plenty of events and articles that have been good or mediocre, regardless of their price (or being free).
Another concern for me is the fact that, there are plenty of international bloggers, which write in their own language and give awesome information, which is accessible only to the speakers of the language. What is lost in translation is lost for good, right? It has happened so many times, that I find great information on Russian blog sites or Swedish blog sites, and this information has been otherwise unavailable, and the bloggers have written in in their own language. (I am lucky to speak Bulgarian, Russian, English and some Swedish, but imagine how much information I am missing because I have hard times with Finnish and Japanese… )
Tell me how do you deal with the “too much information” or with the “too little information”. How do you choose the quality seeds from the rest… Is there a guarantee, that if you spend $1,000 or even worse – €1,000 – on a 3-day conference, you will get more flexible, knowledgeable and better professional?