After failing to land a job with three different companies in three different fields of the Web (advertising, digital agency and art), it struck me that maybe I’m just not a programmer. I mean, I never had any real formal instruction; everything I know is from:
That’s mostly it. All of the real world experience I’ve had was at this one “startup”1 and being such a novice at Rails at the time, I had to learn everything about the framework by breaking production at least three times a day, with like hour long outages. I did learn the usefulness of having a CI server set up2, test driven development and pair programming.
But what does it mean? What does it mean to a programmer? Is that even what I want? Hear me out, I love technology, being a digital native and not able to know where to go without Google Maps or when to be places with Google Calendar is a sign enough. I read tech blogs instead of world news most of the time; I provide third party support on IRC and on forums. But am I a programmer?
I only really got in application development3 because of Iron Man and my want to be just like Tony Stark in mostly the technical aspect of things. I went super hard with the C++ learning and jumped into C# with no training. Loved it because it was just cooler than C++, but went back to C++ because, simply, I knew what I was doing.
Now, I’m mixing everything up. If I’m not hacking/struggling with Wintermute, then I’m looking for a (easy) bug to fix in KDE or Ubuntu. If I don’t feel like worrying about pointers and memory management, I hack on my site by changing the theme eight times by mostly duplicating what I see on the Web4.
Watching the Iron Man trilogy over and over again, as well as saturating myself with seasons 3 to 7 of Doctor Who whilst I’m hacking doesn’t help sort my mind (or be productive, for that matter). But it does help me reassure myself of one thing: I want it. It’s a fire of sorts, the ability to create unimaginable things at whim, to build tools that people will not be able to live without, to change how we live. I want to do something of that magnitude but I just don’t know how.
And that’s why I think I’m not a programmer because this is what they do. They build and sculpt the tech that powers our planets. They paint and draw the cues and gestures that become part of muscle memory. If not for them, who would build Angry Birds, Facebook or even Sconex? We wouldn’t be lacking in a culture, but it’s a culture we shouldn’t miss out on (the culture of technology).
This does provide opportunity. I have the opportunity, network and function that a developer would need to better themselves in today’s society (or Web). It’s not the same place it was five years ago, and that’s for the better (in most cases). My only question (to myself) is whether or not I’m capable of actually feeling like a developer and not just calling myself one.
Wish me luck.
I’m not going to name them, but refusing to pay me for the hours I work is worth noting and if I was ever approached by them, I’d say lightly, “They’re less-than-okay people and they see coders as batteries.” ↩
Jenkins is my best friend here. It was a hurdle to set up, but once it was up, it would not come down. ↩
Noticing a trend here? Yeah? Good. ↩
I’m not very original, sadly. It’s hard for me to come up with interesting ideas to myself. To others, it might pique their curiosity, but mine has yet to be. ↩