Meghan Blanchette

Meghan Blanchette is an editor at O'Reilly Media. She has spent the last few years exploring the tech world and tripping into geekdom.

Everyone is a beginner at something

Becoming confident with the fundamentals.

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Choose your Learning Path. Our new Learning Paths will help you get where you want to go, whether it’s learning a programming language, developing new skills, or getting started with something entirely new.

I’ve noticed a curious thing about the term “beginner.” It’s acquired a sort of stigma — we seem to most often identify ourselves by what we’re an expert in, as if our burgeoning interests/talents have less value. An experienced PHP person who is just starting Python, for example, would rarely describe herself as a “Python Beginner” on a conference badge or biography. There are exceptions, of course, people eager to talk about what they’re learning; but, on the whole, it’s not something we see much.

I work on the Head First content, and first noticed it there. You suggest to a Java developer looking to learn Ruby that she check out our Head First Ruby. “But I know programming,” she’s likely to reply, “I’m not a beginner, I just need to learn Ruby.” People, by and large, buy into the stigma of being a “beginner,” which is, frankly, silly. Everyone is a beginner at something.

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