January 11, 2019
“Are you working?”
My three year old daughter thinks any time I’m sitting at home on my computer I’m working.
I’m incredibly privileged to be in software development in a company based out of the San Francisco while working remotely. My daughter thinks this is normal, and what working is.
Working is not getting in the car for an hour+ commute to sigh your way through another boring day... I’ve had plenty of those, but she’s never known it.
She asked me once while I was working “what are you doing, daddy?”
The best thing I could think at the time was “I’m telling my computer what to do.” I suppose that’s not totally untrue.
Really these days I just tell some subroutine of the OS how to do things when people click on them, or type in them. It’s an unfortunate simplification of being in a single codebase for so long, you get blinders on for what we’re actually doing when building things on the web.
I try to never forget that no matter how complicated a “web app” is, it’s really just something for people to look at, and if we’re lucky be more productive at whatever it was they were trying to do.
My specialty is working within the browser. This is the window into one of the, if not the, most powerful things humans have managed to invent. It’s easy for us as individual code writing people to lose sight of the fact that anyone with an internet connection and a computer of any size can interact with us and the things we build.
I try to remember this when I’m dealing with a bug in some browser I don’t want to test because I’m stubborn and lazy. It makes me happy to hear stories from those that use the software I helped to build when they’re happy. I feel invigorated when those same people are upset about something that I helped build, there’s the allure of this whole enterprise.
My brain enjoys figuring this shit out, which is lucky. I guess my string of luck is just there to break the curve. White CIS male, born in America in the late 70’s into a middle-class family (eventually), good family, good neighborhood, college of choice (dropped out because I didn’t like Computer Science), never told I couldn’t do something, performed odd jobs during my early twenties and got lucky when given a chance to work on a company website, perfect timing to break into the tech industry as a college dropout without much experience, and now living comfortably because all good things never end.
I don’t want to break the illusion for my daughter just yet, that dad isn’t particularly awesome at his job, just lucky with good timing and works well with others. This is something that’s taken me a long time to understand myself, but I’m glad I’m here now.
She asked me what a computer was and I pulled the quote “we figured out how to get sand to do math really fast," or something similar. She made a face and just asked about the beach.
She did like it when I turned my company’s dashboard all purple, her favorite color currently. This is the extent of my power. Fear me.