⚠️ This content has been written a long time ago. As such, it might not reflect my current thoughts anymore. I keep this page online because it might still contain valid information.

I am a sponge

2022-05-01 // I proofread this article and removed dead links.

According to my PhD advisor, I am a sponge. What does that mean, though? This is the purpose of today’s article.

I am going to introduce a sort of Sponge Theory. This is obviously not about SpongeBob. This informal theory is actually focused on two core principles: learning and sharing, and the order matters.


One of the main goals of a sponge (the material) is to sponge an impervious surface in order to clean it. A sponge is especially good at absorbing water and water-based solutions. In other words, a sponge is able to store a large amount of liquid into it.

Obviously, as a human, being a sponge means that you are able to absorb a lot of information. You are interested in various topics (and not only technical ones). You read a lot, everything, all the time. You dig into topics that sound cool to you. You enjoy learning new things and you try to keep you up to date, even on things that you don’t use to do.

Also, an interesting point about sponges as animals is that they filter the water they absorb. That is how they feed themselves. It is similar to you when you sort all the information you get. You certainly don’t agree with everything you read. Being able to distinguish useful information is tricky though, and it depends on various parameters such as the context in which you are living, tastes, aspirations, etc. But I am digressing…

Behaving like a sponge is not only about swallowing and filtering information.


As I said, a sponge is not only about holding water-based solutions. You can squeeze sponges in order to get the absorbed water (please, don’t do that with animals!). That is the second characteristic of a sponge, it is able to return what it contains.

You love sharing things you learned, either by talking to your friends, writing, teaching, tweeting, etc. For instance, I read a lot of RSS feeds and weekly mailing lists and I tend to tweet about things that I consider relevant. I also teach at the University from time to time.

For me personally, it is not too different than the Open Source world. When I start to use an Open Source project, I learn about its internals and very often I contribute back (in various ways).


Being a sponge is all about learning and reading a lot, i.e. being interested in plenty of topics, and then being able to share relevant information.

Is it bad? No. I believe that I am lucky, and you should too. Being curious is important, being able to communicate clearly is even more important! No matter how technically “strong” you are, if you are not able to explain what you are doing or if you can’t discuss with your teammates, you are certainly not a “good fit” for most teams.

Be curious, learn new things, then talk to your teammates. You will become more valuable over time. People will also naturally come to you to seek advice or simply share their new shiny things with you.

Feel free to fork and edit this post if you find a typo, thank you so much! This post is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

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