Software development tends to be regarded as an engineering practice. But something dear to me is that it’s also creative work. Writing words, creating entities, giving them behaviour and meaning, that is very much what an author does when writing fiction. It’s an art and a craft. That’s personally why I like doing it.
This engineering vs art duality is not recognized nearly enough. Computers talk in ones and zeros, but writing software is far from an exact science.
An awful advice I read recently for software developers was to write blog posts and articles, because it positions you as an authority. You write about it, you’re an authority on the matter. See how easy it is?
If you think you’re concerned about the products and devices that access and use your life’s data, you’re probably not concerned enough.
Damning words from Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader in the Amazon:
[W]e have a word for you – the outsider, the stranger. In my language, WaoTededo, that word is “cowori”. And it doesn’t need to be a bad word. But you have made it so. For us, the word has come to mean (and in a terrible way, your society has come to represent): the white man that knows too little for the power that he wields, and the damage that he causes.
It’s sad how much of Stack Overflow is filled with people repeating already given answers. More and more I see the same response with minor variations. Not surprising though when you realize the system encourages people to use it as a tool to up their reputation.
It’s also sad how much of a focus there is on quick fixes, but not understanding. Too often I see advice that only works in a specific context and the poster is oblivious to that.
The true value of work has been on my mind lately. Is it worth doing as the primary activity of our lives? Work is not a cosmic good and it’s not a requirement for living. It pays the bills, supports my family, but beyond that what do I get out of it?
Most companies make it sound like the work is mission critical and has to be completed on schedule. But it’s a hamster wheel. What I was doing 20 years ago, I still did 10 years ago and I’m still doing it today. Has that work changed the world? Not really.
Maybe it’s time to realize we’re just feeding the machine. Capitalism and infinite growth are human constructs. As such, they can be reconsidered. Right on queue, The Guardian has an article on that.
Many people think using Google, Amazon, Facebook et al is the only way. But that’s not true and we have to be more vocal about doing it differently.
I don’t use Google or Chrome, I don’t shop at Amazon, I don’t ride with Uber, I’m not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And you know what, life is fine.
Always room for improvement, but this is what I do currently.
- I follow news and people using Feedly, and I read it when I very well please.
- I host my own email and my own microblog with WordPress.
- I use non-algorithm alternatives like Mastodon and PixelFed.
- I block ads and tracking with 1Blocker, Better Blocker and DuckDuckGo.
- I prioritize buying local and I encourage a variety of vendors. Let bookstores sell books and grocery stores sell groceries!
I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix last night. I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you think you know the deal. The social fabric is eroding while unregulated corporations watch and monetize everything you do. This isn’t science fiction, this is right now. It’s not inevitable. We all have to wake up and demand regulation.
Capitalism, endless growth, systemic racism, ecological destruction, none of it is inevitable. There are other ways to build a world. It’s important to change that story we’ve been told. Here’s one I can get behind.