The Anti-Resume

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The term anti-resume is used in several different senses, most commonly refer to a narrative resume in the fashion of Anne Sexton’s Resume 1965.

The other sense of the term is that mentioned in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan where the author comments, “People don’t walk around with anti-resumes telling you what they have not studied or experienced.” For computer geeks, this seems to be doubly true since it’s often a point of pride about the depth of knowledge in a particular area one has, whether it’s a computer language, a code framework, or some particular anime director’s corpus of work.

To list all the things one doesn’t know, even in the broadest sense, would still be a ridiculously large list, not to mention a rather pointless intellectual exercise. But there would actually seem to be quite a bit of value in analyzing one’s abilities in terms of what one aspired to learn (but might never learn due to lack of aptitude or limitations of time) or what one planned to learn for a job role (a variation on the, “where do you see yourself in five years” question). In the latter, the anti-resume becomes a tool for planning one’s personal or career growth.

My first take on a personal anti-resume looks something like this:

  • Foreign language (Japanese and Mandarin Chinese). Despite having had two years in college on the former and taking some lessons in the latter, my ability to speak these languages is below the level that might be considered functional. I comprehend enough Japanese to get the gist of conversations when my daughter’s friends speak Japanese with their parents and I can occasionally puzzle out words in katakana. My Mandarin is stuck pretty firmly at the preschool level, though I know all the words to the children’s song “Liang zhi lao hu” (“two tigers”, sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques”).
  • The .NET web technology stack (IIS, C#.NET, SQLServer). I know just enough of these technologies to be dangerous, having worked off and on with IIS and deployed ASP pages, built at least one app with C# and used SQLServer on the desktop for Vignette. But I’d like to know more and I’d like to be able to build full-featured data-driven web applications with this technology with the same proficiency that I do with other technologies (LAMP and Java).
  • Functional programming languages. Ever since first being exposed to them in a meaningful way at No Fluff Just Stuff in 2008, I’ve been excited about functional programming languages like Erlang or Clojure. In addition to learning more about those languages (pick one), I’m still fuzzy on concepts like lambda calculus and curried functions and would like to learn more, particularly when it comes to applying some of those concepts to the Javascript work I do.
  • Probability. Having completed a course in statistics, I feel like I have some better tools to further improve my understanding of probability and things like Bayesian analysis. There are so many applications for probability in the computer field and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface with my reading.
  • Geography and GIS. I have a real fondness for maps and geography along with the ways we use maps in ways beyond getting directions somewhere. The use of maps on the web and other technology like GPSes are of particular interest where they overlap with ideas of space over time and human relations to space (such as human migrations and land use, urban development, and community building). I may not be quite the GIS maven that Scott Davis is, but I have his book GIS for Web Developers and I plan to read it all the way through sometimerealsoonnow.
  • Javascript and jQuery. I’ve been writing Javascript for years, though it’s only recently I’ve begun to explore its real capabilities, as enhanced by the various frameworks out there including YUI, prototype, jQuery and DOJO. I’ve had the ability to dive pretty deeply into jQuery in recent months and want to master its capabilities.
  • Computer Security. With the recent concern about PCI compliance and working in an industry where we deal with confidential health records, security of our data, our applications and our servers (the latter two, respectively, accessing and storing the data) is a major concern. Among our many concerns are making sure we’re in compliance with regulations, checking that the site isn’t vulnerable to things like XSS attacks and ensuring that the applications are secure. We also work closely with the IT group that manages the servers to avoid inadvertently introducing security holes and exposing data.
  • Algorithms and Design Patterns. My first serious exposure to design patterns was with my Java certification, though I discovered I’d been using some variation of various patterns without knowing what they were specifically. Having the knowledge and using it in a systematic fashion has made me want to learn more about patterns I haven’t used. The same holds true with algorithms such as sorting data and lists, traversing trees, and compressing data.
  • Aikido. I’m currently a member of the Tsubomi Seishin Kan Dojo, but time constraints and finances have limited my ability to take aikido lessons right now. I hope to continue classes in the near future, probably as soon as I’m not spending as much time with school and learning some of the previous things in this list. Of the martial arts I’ve studied, aikido resonates with me, combining the breathing and moving meditation of tai chi with the discipline and weapons practices of karate. Not only that, but the people in my dojo are a really great bunch of folks I like spending time with.
  • Writing. I’ve written extensively throughout my life and in number of different modes including fiction, poetry, technical documentation and this blog. There’s always room for improvement and learning. I’d love to write a book, perhaps a novel, and some short fiction, either fantasy or science fiction.

That’s just a quick take, but probably more than enough to keep me occupied for the next five years.

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