… asked us if we ever intentionally got lost in a town, perhaps a town new to us, so that we had to learn the place in order to get back to a place we knew. Several people nodded vigorous agreement, and one guy noted that he and his colleagues use a similar technique to learn a new legacy code base. They call this air-drop programming. This is a colorful analogy for a common pattern among software developers. Sometimes the best way to learn a new framework or programming language is to parachute behind enemy lines, surrender connection to any safety nets outside, and fight our way out. …
Took that from here.
There are varients of this technique, walk-about, year abroad, home visit.
My techniques of this kind aren’t as random as that sounds. For example in a city I will find the old train station, park and then walk in the direction that seems to go down hill economicly. Or in code I will find the error logging or memory management and then work backward up the call tree, at first breadth first and then selectively depth first. Sometimes I look for the chinatown, or the I the center of what was the city’s primary industry 30 years ago. Often it’s good to look for the place where a bloom of new code occured, try to figure when it happened, and then look at the borders between it and the older code.
Now: Get lost!