Can we learn to be curious?

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It’s hard to say. Curiosity isn’t a skill, it’s something more inherent. And yet curiosity is the difference between an average knowledge worker and a highly sought-after one.

Curious people ask questions. They don’t just zip past a supermarket-style automatic door without pausing and wondering how it works. Does it use a photoresistor? Is the sensor planted on the floor or near the walls?

Curious folks are easily distracted when they come across something new. They cannot get back to whatever they were doing before finding out more about their distraction – a new pattern or interesting observation. They want to know its history. They want to learn its why.

Why is a new line character called a carriage return?

How do database migrations work?

How do domain names work? Why don’t we have Hindi or Chinese domains?

Can I install Windows and macOS side-by-side?

What’s the story behind the 80-character limit for a line of code?

By exploring how stuff works behind the scenes, curious people learn how systems work. They internalize foundational concepts such that learning new languages and frameworks becomes trivial because they are familiar with the basics and common features.

Curiosity cannot be taught. But it also isn’t something one must be born with to have it. One can learn to be curious by making slight shifts in their habits and mindset.

This was the main message I picked up from the freeCodeCamp podcast episode What Scott Hanselman learned from 900 podcast interviews with devs.

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