In a recent Stack Overflow podcast, Rands and the guys were talking about learning, and how nerds have a tendency to go wide and shallow - to want to learn about a million different things, not necessarily to any great depth on any of them. This is well-trodden territory for Rands, but this time it really struck a chord for me because I've started trying to resist that urge.
Professionally, I've never been all that much of a dilettante. I am continuously expanding the envelope of my expertise, but I don't bounce around like a magpie, and I'm not easily seduced by the latest toys. I have steered my career in the directions where I want to continue to learn and grow, and am currently happy to be able to explore at work a lot of new areas of analytics, visualization, web technologies, and user experience design that have been sort of in my peripheral vision for a while now. (Aside: I always bristle when I hear people say that a developer 'should' have side projects, work on open-source, and the like. I prefer to guide my career in directions that keep me stimulated, so that I get that fix from my work. Good for me, good for my career, and good for my employer; everyone wins, except I guess for whatever open-source project I might otherwise be contributing to.)
But personally, as far as hobbies go, I tend to bounce around a little more. And I've noticed something in the past year or two: The amount of readily available information about topics that I find interesting has surpassed the time I have available to digest it. Thus, I'm trying to be more selective about what topics I pursue, paring down the blog feeds I subscribe to and limiting my attention to a couple of key hobby interests: Design (which dovetails nicely with what I'm doing at work, and which is of course a huge and broad subject anyway), and making things.
We'll see how that goes. There are always a lot of shiny things around.