A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Searching for a Niche

WARNING: I ramble on and on in this post.

So the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about “my niche”, or, more accurately, my lack thereof.  OK, so I haven’t been on a pilgrimage, or quest, or anything like that, but I’ve probably spent a grand total of 30-60 minutes thinking about this, and talking to Gerry about it.

You know how some people are known by what they are good at?  For example, there’s the “patterns guy“, the “persistence/ORM guy“, the “AI guy“, the “audiobook guy“, the “RSS guy” etc.  Well, I’m wondering what “guy” I am, or should be, or if I should be a “guy” at all.  It’s not an ego thing really — I just want to be an expert at something.

So far, I don’t think that I am an expert on any particular topic.  I know a fair amount about a fair amount of topics, but can’t think of anything where I might be considered the guru.  I’ve been trying to think about what topic I would like to use as my niche, so I started by thinking of things that interest me or have interested me in the past.  Here’s a short list:

  • Programming
  • Graph Theory (enjoyed in college)
  • Number Theory (enjoyed in college)
  • Reading books (although I tend to stop reading after about 20-50 pages)
  • Reading blogs
  • Music (playing and listening)
  • Writing (sometimes)

I know I have other interests, but these seemed to be the most likely to lead to some level of gurudom (guruness?  guruosity?).  Of course, I’ve forgotten almost everything I learned about Graph and Number Theory, and I’m barely an amateur on my bass guitar.  I could study, though, if I could see some application of the knowledge.  After all these years, I don’t even know how one would apply knowledge gained in the study of Number Theory — I just remember thinking the class was very enjoyable and that I had a good teacher.

I should go dig up my old textbooks.

Other than the math topics, my interest list seems to indicate that maybe I should become a reviewer of some sort (book, music, blog, etc.), but I really have no interest at all in doing that.  God only knows that I don’t want to be an expert at code reviews.  Now that would be boring.

This is just the present-day version of “what do I want to be when I grow up”.  I knew better when I was 14 what I wanted to be than I do now at 30.  If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would have told you that I was going to be a physicist.  I had taken a high school physics class that was very easy and natural and interesting.  Of course, college physics changed my mind on that topic, and I’ve been unsure of what I wanted to do ever since.

Oh well.  It’s not like I have to make a life-changing decision on anything this week, right?  But I am going to spend some time thinking about what interests me, and what I can do to become an expert at those things.

Unfortunately, I think becoming a professional baseball player is out of the picture anymore.


TechEd 2005


Bar-B-Geek… Geek-A-Que… Whatever…


  1. You’re just about the best at whatever you set your mind to, and your mind frustratingly (for me) seems to remember just about everything… Follow what you love, just be sure to blog about it… and everything will be good!

  2. Scott,

    Don’t worry. Even the “persistence/ORM guy” wonders what he’s going to be when he grows up. πŸ˜‰

    I would start by analyzing what books you’re drawn to when you go to Barnes and Nobles. Are they web design books? .NET books (if so, what area)? Plays? Sports? That should help you focus on where your interestes lie.

    Another thought is to become an editor for a technical journal. It would satisfy your reading interest and stay under your “losing interest” threshold.

    Don’t worry…you’ll figure it out. If not, you have an excuse at 40 for a mid-life crisis – get a Ferrari, wear a gold medallion and find that blonde bombshell. πŸ˜‰


Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén