The Eyes Have It

Toucan eye by @Doug88888, on Flickr

As I was trying to help a colleague with a project recently, we fell into a conversation about the challenges of discerning which skill sets it’s worth putting in the time to learn.

We each could think of examples of things that we’d spent time learning that ultimately became obsolete, as well as things we’d learned that surprised us by becoming suddenly relevant in an unexpected way, sometimes a long time after the initial learning.

One of the areas that has historically had the most dependable “payoff” ratio for me has been working with images. I realized fairly early on in blogging that I would sometimes want to use someone else’s image as a “springboard” for what I wanted to say, and I also wanted to be able to use other people’s images responsibly, so I taught myself about Creative Commons.

When I learned that giant image files could really impede a site’s load time, I invested some time in learning the basics of file compression. (Thank you, Preview!)

And even though Picnik is gone, I feel as though the time I spent working with images there wasn’t wasted… it helped me make sense of sites like Lunapic and PicMonkey. It also helped develop in me the expectation that an alternative to Picnik had to be out there somewhere… sometimes what I learn is less about the “howto” and more about confidence that there is a tool out there to help me do what I want to do, and that I’ll be able to find it.

So… as much as I depend on my ability to write my way out of trouble, I’m feeling as though my self-directed professional development efforts going forward – at least in the near future – are likely to focus just as much on the visuals. Because so far, that has always ended up feeling like a worthwhile investment of my time.

What are some things you’re hoping to learn in the year ahead, and why have you chosen those things?

Posted on March 3, 2013, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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