Backdrop: Technological innovation is fast (less so in commercial banking, i was told) so “lasting” means … maybe 5 to 10 years (rarely longer)?? Few achievements meet this criteria.
– open source — software have real lasting values. I guess you can learn to Read their source code — usually in C.
– [L] contributions to foundation modules such as VM/CLR, compilers, threading library, GC, STL — real lasting values
What skills contribute to lasting value-add to an organization?
– tuning – DB — needed in many big and small systems
– tuning – low latency systems — more rare
– [L] instrumentation i.e. refactor/design a given (complex) system to make it easy to trace and follow
– [L] ? introspection – tend to be rather powerful in many new languages
– ? interpreting bytecode; decompilers
– ? system security; white hat hacker
[L = I feel most of these skills are low-level]
In theory almost everything can be learned by a young guy in a few years provided they get full (rare!) access to all source code and manage to make sense of it all. However, look at how many bright young people become kernel developers even though so much open source operations systems exist.