Monday 18 February 2013

Have you heard of a magical place called the Internet?

I am a little bit of a spoiled brat when it comes to the wired world. My web presence started with Geocities when we embraced animated gifs and blinking HTML. Then I moved on to pimping MySpace in the mid-noughties and then discovered the pedestal that is having your own blog. Yes, I lived in the even older text based world of newsgroups and spent hours surfing the web with Lynx.

These days, I feel sad when I meet "IT people" who think they are somehow carrying a banner of normality by not being on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. They ask "why would I want that?" and to be honest, I couldn't care less that they haven't worked out that the world is leaving them behind.

In fact, it shocks me to come across "computing people" who snigger at the idea of an online brand only to wonder why no one hires them based on all the silent good deeds they have done. I call that a home brand. Yet, they go on to tell me that the world is a meritocracy and no good deed goes unpunished. I don't snigger back.

In my job, I build bloody big web sites for super large companies. I build mobile line of business apps for multinationals. I build dumb games for smart phones. I talk about design of architecture and of user interface. I demand usability and an enjoyable user experience. I make interacting with the virtual world easier for people who don't spend their whole lives online like I do and for those who do.

It is unsettling to see the same mistakes being made over and over again. To watch cluttered interfaces be embraced by technologists who I think should know better. To see people tell me that this is the way the world is when I sit in their retro worlds and think of how young I once was when the thing they are championing was actually the new black.

In the past, I would try to educate them. Explain in detail the reasoning behind good design in visual ways and in code. It would take time and patience and not slapping them but I'd invest and finally help them understand the modern way.

I'm not even talking cutting edge. Just what is accepted now.

Everything is different now. Things old people once said to me are now coming out of MY mouth. Things like "I choose which battles to fight these days" and "they will learn in time" and "it is not my job to teach everyone."

When it comes to a client and delivery at work, I give my all. The long conversations seem worth it. When it is my peers and people I watch or interact with because of work and who aren't my clients then I seem to stand back now. It still irks me or even hurts my soul to not interject but something in me simply doesn't care enough anymore.

There is this amazing thing called the Internet. Stuff is moving fast. What you understand as the "best practice" or the "standard" may have been that once but it isn't now. I spend so much time looking at better ways to do things and new reasons for doing it that way. That is not an assumption I can make for others.

Keeping up with progressing technology and ideas is a job on top of your full time job but for those of us in technology, it should be a given. You can't just work 40 hours and go home and base everything on what little you did or learnt in that time. If you want to do that, study ancient history or paleobotany. The world of technology is not the place for you.

Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!

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