When I was first studying up for job interviews I experienced a phenomenon I am calling “The Black Hole of Technology.” I would look up one acronym, framework title, or protocol abbreviation only to find more that I didn’t know about in the explanation. I would then dutifully click one of those links only to have the same thing happen. I would continue on and get about five subjects deep until I couldn’t remember what I was trying to look up in the first place!
For example, if you look up “Model-view-controller” on everybody’s favorite source, Wikipedia (it certainly was my very favorite while in school, if only for a starting point!), you’ll find a link to the “Spring framework” page. I think, “Hmm, I know that this has been mentioned a lot,” so I click on it. On that page there is mention of “SOAP.” I think, “Hmm, I have always wanted to know what that is all about.” I click on that. The explanation is not really super clear to me, but here is competing technology “CORBA.” I think, “Maybe I’ll find out more about what ‘SOAP’ and ‘CORBA’ are there.” I click on that. I read and see “Python” and think, “Python, that sounds interesting!” I click on that. I think, “What’s ‘Duck Typing’?” I click on that. Then I think, “No, I need to get back to what I was looking up.” So I go back two steps to “CORBA.” Then I think, “What was ‘SSL’ again?” This goes on and on. It seems there is never an end to the hole you go down trying to learn about a technology.
Since then I have learned to limit myself to only going one, maybe two, levels down the hole. If I don’t have a complete understanding of every single part of a technology, that’s OK. It’s just that it’s in my nature to want to know about the nuts-and-bolts of something, but I have learned that it isn’t completely necessary to be able to use that same something. It’s just tough because while I don’t know exactly how a computer works, I have a decent idea. While I don’t know exactly how a car works I have a really good understanding of it. While I don’t know exactly how my dishwasher works, I have a basis of knowledge. I’ve figured out that it’s OK to not know these things. I can still surf the Web, drive, and get the dishes clean without memorizing blueprints and schematics.