|No rest for technology|
Many people have romantic notions about scientists, engineers, and software professionals. The stereotype is that we are super smart and socially awkward individuals who spend their days making inventions and applications which change the world. The reality of technology is less glamorous; it is hours, weeks, and months of frustration. It is executives and financers demanding the work to be finished immediately. It is cold coffee and stale pizza. It is loneliness and frustration. In the end, you might have a brief moment which feels like the creator is touching your shoulder but those moments are rare. Often you will see a solution to a problem which has dominated your life and now you will have to make it work for others.
It means traditional methods cannot measure these workers. Science is notoriously fickle when it comes to new advancements. Computer software is a handmade and messy process prone to error and cost overruns. Software is eating the world, but it depends on a small segment of the world population to build it. Innovation and invention do not fit neatly into a project plan. The realities and pressures of technology create unhealthy levels of stress.
The heavy intellectual lifting combined with the anxiety caused by deadline pressure creates a toxic stew of emotions which can lead to physical problems. Obesity and heart disease are common among software professionals. Self-medication with cannabis and alcohol are also common within the trade. All of my contemporaries have recounted stores of insomnia and anxiousness caused by grappling with a severe challenge. For those outside the profession, the levels of stress and frustration are extreme. To a developer, it is just another day at the office.
Creativity and innovation are difficult. The pressure we place on people leading innovation efforts is unhealthy. The repercussions are professional burn out, defective products, and the risk of cascading failure within complex systems which maintain the global economy. In many respects, we live in a magical age. Today’s smartphones are more powerful than the computers which put people on the moon. With a few swipes, we can order food and find a possible romantic partner to share it with us. Information can swirl around the globe in seconds and we have millions of people using the internet to solve problems only a century ago would have had the attention of a small group of specialists. It is a fantastic period to be alive, but the cost is that many people take for granted these advances and forget they are the product of the human mind rather than magic.
It is why I say technology is not for the meek. It requires intelligence, training, and the ability to tolerate frustration and failure. The strength has helped build the global economy, and I have enjoyed a peripheral role in this process. Technology people are different, but they have to be; otherwise, the magical world we live in would not exist.
Until next time.