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3 September 2014  /  Writing  /  Insight

Written in Auckland, New Zealand.
After a morning of net surfing.

I’ve spent the last decade lost in the allure of management. I’m now re-aligning back into coding, designing, and making things.

I was expecting to learn new things as part of this process. I was not expecting to get my perspective so thoroughly changed.

In my internet choose-your-own-adventure-click-fest travels on the topic of Javascript I found an article describing the working habits and development thought process of @fat, one of the authors of Bootstrap.

The quote that bent my brain being;

One night I just directly asked him how I could get better at programming. He asked me why I would want to do such a thing. What he explained was that if I can already build anything I could imagine (with enough Google searching and time) then what’s the value in getting any better at programming itself? Instead I should focus on getting better at building things or get better at thinking of things to build.

This was such a stunning change of mindset for me I spent the rest of the day trying to process this simple, beautiful idea.

There is a cultural expectation in the technology industry that everything you publish be of the highest quality. That you’re a subject matter expert. That this all adds up to represent your brand and is indicative of your skill levels. Unfortunately this commonly manifests as obsessive one-upmanship, or worse presenting as an opinionated, insufferable know-it-all.

And it deliberately misses the point. Using the pretense of craft we obsess over how it’s built. Which allows us to deflect and avoid the far more daunting prospect of what to build, or worse building something and having it critiqued by our “peers”.

We are all to often, a young and insecure industry.

And I had played right into it. The fear of public scrutiny of my work, and of that work not being perfect was paralysing. These cultural expectations had me focussed on the wrong things, and that misplaced focus had been blocking me from doing anything.

But here’s the key to unlocking it all, the users of the thing don’t care how it’s built.

Thus from now on my approach is much simpler and more robust.

Ignore everyone. Build interesting things.