How You’re Most Valuable.
Wearing many hats can be exhausting. And rewarding, and painstaking, and refreshing. Guess that’s what you get if you have all those hats on…
I’ve given it some thought, though, and I’ve decided how I feel about the whole blending interests and being pretty good at all of them vs focusing on one thing and mastering it conversation.
When it comes down to it, I think being able to do lots of things makes you more valuable. When you’re confidently strong in several areas, is it really necessary to then “master” one of them and forsake the rest? Keep Reading
Help Yourself. Literally.
College didn’t do me a damn bit of good.
That’s not to say I didn’t take advantage of the classes I took, or do my homework, or participate in group discussions… I did. I was actually a relatively good student. But still, here I am doing work that’s directly related to my degree (communications) and I feel like everything I’ve learned has been on the job. That’s right- on the job, not in the classroom.
It makes perfect sense that I feel this way, because it’s the world we live in. We’re a self-taught generation, no professors necessary. We learn from each other’s mistakes, successes, trials and tribulations. No no no, we don’t use self-help to reach our goals, but we are self-taught, and that’s a huge difference.
I’m not the only one who feels this way.
“With the amount of awesome tutorial blogs and design blogs out there, I don’t see any reason for a degree.” – Mike Smith
“I have worked with other programmers with and without degrees. Some were good and some not; having a degree didn’t seem to make any difference as to which pot they fell into.” – Stack Overflow
I think Peter Chang sums it up quite nicely.
“…before I went to college I was self-taught and after college I consider myself to be self-teaching all the time. Learning should never end.”
Let’s Get Critical.
I think it’s time web development had a critical culture. Sure occasionally people pop off on Twitter, but it’s seldom reasoned, or well thought out. It’s a half-dashed sluffed-off thought that nobody, especially the critiqued, can profit from.
I think it would benefit clients and developers alike to see factual discourse on more than just “it looks cool on my monitor.” We should be assessing work on several attributes: design, architecture, copy, interactivity, compatibility, as well as the technical aspects living under the hood.
My hope would be that we can raise the bar for our chosen industry- treating it like the liberal art that it is. Giving credit where credit is due. Pointing out where the critiqued, and we as a whole, can get better. I think the “community” feel of web design is fantastic. But mutual back-pats are not going to elevate our craft to the status that oil painting or even editorial magazine design holds in the history of art.
So who’s ready? Do you have a critical eye, a cutting whit, and impeccable taste? Are you unafraid of being adored by some and loathed by others? Are you the type of person who can love someone dearly yet still tell them that their breath stinks? Then you have a lot of work to do. Public critical analysis of web development is in its infancy, and we all need you to help it grow up.
A lot goes in to learning something new. There’s not always someone who can show you the ropes- you have to muddle through it yourself. If you’re doing it for the first time, it might be rough, and you might second-guess yourself. It’s truly awesome to know you can constantly get better and smarter, but it ain’t easy.
You’ll probably go wrong a time or two. You’ll probably mutter a few choice words you hope your cube buddy didn’t hear. You’ll might even want to throw your computer right out the window. But you’ll be glad you didn’t. ‘Cause what comes next makes all the frustration worth it.
It’s that moment when you know you’ve done it. When you sit back, look at the completed project, and smile stupidly because you’re so dang proud of yourself. You went through hell to get there- and it took twice as long as you hoped, but the end result is right. Now you know, and you can do this new thing you learned over and over.
This thing might be relatively insignificant, and it might be something your co-workers already know how to do… or it could be something cutting edge you can teach those around you.
Small victories are a big deal, so don’t brush them off, or downplay them.
Making Insignificant Ideas Magnificent.
The web is truly in a great place right now. Every day you can see dozens of new applications launched that required countless man hours to make. The nuances and specificity of them is beginning to boggle the mind. The sheer quantity of people on Earth capable of writing a web application is amazing.
In fact, as a web developer it’s somewhat daunting. You can have a thought like “what if I made a tool to keep track of when my next oil change comes due?” and a few seconds later realize that dozens of apps have beat you to the punch.
Sure, you could maybe improve the interface, make it prettier, promote it better, integrate it with Twitter, etc. But it seems like there’s nothing left in big chunks that isn’t a minute improvement on a small facet of something else.
Let’s skip to another subject for a second.
In 1997 NASA, in conjunction with the European and Italian Space Agencies, launched the Cassini-Huygens space probe. It had a far-reaching set of goals, most of which seemed more optimistic than legitimate. It’s track was outward from Earth- taking a layman’s tour of our solar system as it became accessible by coincidentally calculated orbit.
After near-space tours of Earth’s moon, Venus, and Jupiter, Cassini was en-route to one of Saturn’s moons named Enceladus. By this time it was 2005, and Cassini had already discovered three new moons of Saturn, tested General Relativity and made countless other minor discoveries leading to better understandings of our close corner of the universe. Keep Reading
Some Christmas Reading.
Being the nerd that I am, a good percentage of my Christmas gifts were books. Since I’m always on the hunt for good books myself, I thought it would be cool to share a few of my gifts on the chance they’ll provide a spark for somebody else.
501 Bento box lunches.
My family knows I’m interested in both cooking and Japanese culture, so this one wasn’t a big surprise. I totally dig the idea that even something as mundane as packing a lunch deserves the care and attention to detail that bento requires. If you ever feel bored, remember you could be doing a better and more interesting job of even the small things.
100 Classic Graphic Design Books
I wanted this book to be amazing. It turned out to be only good. I share it just so you don’t get suckered in by the cover like I did. It’s a good book, but mostly it’s just a bunch of pictures of spreads that are too small to really do any justice. You’ve been warned.
The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams
I’m near obsessed with Apple hardware, and it’s common knowledge that Jony Ive, Apple’s lead designer is obsessed with Dieter Rams. This book is an incredible tour through Rams’ amazing design portfolio. Early sketches, great interviews, and tons of photography. Keep Reading
Wrapping Up 2010.
During the Holidays, we take a little time off to enjoy friends, family, and frankly, a break from work. For this reason, we’ll be in and out over the next week- so support might be a little slower than usual till we’re back full-swing on Jan. 3. If you have an emergency during that time, though, e-mail us- we’ll do our best to get you taken care of as soon as possible.
Playing Left Handed.
Two nice quotes from Shigeru Miyamoto, the genius behind many of Nintendo’s best games.
“There’s a big difference between the money you receive personally from the company and the money you can use in your job.”
“So sometimes I ask the younger game creators to try playing the games they are making by switching their left and right hands. In that way, they can understand how inexperienced the first-timer is.”