[FoRK] Re: hmmm... what about graphics?

Andy Armstrong andy
Thu Oct 6 07:20:46 PDT 2005

On 6 Oct 2005, at 15:00, kelley at inkworkswell.com wrote:
> I run into the same thing. When I apply for conventional positions,  
> I always have to tailor my resume. I personally like being, for  
> lack of a better word (given its negative connotations), a  
> dilettante, but it surely doesn't fit in the corporate mold.

I had the word 'dilettante' in my head when I described myself in  
that mail :)

> I can enjoy just about any type of work and, as a consequence, have  
> done all kinds of things. The places where this is both honed and  
> appreciated (though not monetarily) are smaller businesses. Wearing  
> many hats in such an environment is normal. If you just love  
> learning to master new things, it's a great place to be.

Yes. Prior to right now (I seem to be having a load of fun at the  
moment) the happiest period of my working life was when I ran a small  
company for which I basically did everything apart from keeping the  
books. I designed the hardware, laid out the PCBs, programmed the  
custom logic, wrote the software, wrote the documentation, designed  
the ads, took the photos, wrote the advertising copy etc etc. Good  

>> For years I wanted a job that let me do / everything/ but of  
>> course companies don't and can't work like that.  So I'm self  
>> employed - I'm a generous boss and an undisciplined
>> employee all rolled in to one :)
> I don't understand how you can get away with the undisciplined  
> employee thing! I'm envious. I warned my partner when we started  
> this that it would be 90 hour weeks and then some. Anyone I've ever  
> known who started a business has had to do the same -- unless  
> they'd been making the move over the course of months or years, had  
> a source of income/lots of savings, or had a spouse to support them.

Therese is an education geek - so I hide in my office and hack on  
code for 18 hours a day and she reads and writes about the philosophy  
of education for as long. She's a morning person and I'm an evening  
person - on Tuesday this week we actually crossed over - she got up  
at 0400 to work and I stayed up until 0600 from the day before.  
Eventually we both crash and enjoy each other's company all the more.

> Even so, I agree with you Corinna, it can't always be just  
> following what you love. (Gee, that sounds sooooooo Joseph  
> Campbell!) For me, there are all kinds of things I'd love to do.  
> Almost anything will be interesting to me -- and that's why I can't  
> identify with being bored with a job. So, following what you love  
> doesn't really winnow it down.

The only job that's ever bored me was being the technical director  
(CTO I guess) for a company of, at its peak, 20 people. Largely  
because my business partner and I had no interest in running a  
company that size we failed to define our roles so that we got to do  
the things we enjoyed - the things that got us there in the first  
place. I ended up spending far too much time talking to clients I  
didn't really respect or find interesting and far too little time  
with my head buried in code. So perhaps 'do what you love' should be  
rephrased as 'know what you hate and avoid it'.

> And, as Corrina suggests, there are practical considerations --  
> especially in the tech sector, which (for a variety of reasons  
> which have been hashed out here over the years) is constantly  
> fluctuating as to what's the hottest programming language, the next  
> BIG thing, the latest bleeding edge approach to development.

One of the most important skills is to have a sense for which  
technologies will stick. I think you also develop of how long to wait  
before adopting. Eight years ago I was boring anyone who'd listen  
about how big location based technologies would be - and how the big  
GIS companies would become irrelevant unless they got with the  
program. I also got quite far down the road of raising VC for a site  
almost exactly like http://upcoming.org/ - but we abandoned because  
we decided the market wasn't ready - we just couldn't work out what  
the business model was. That's not supposed to read like a 'I could'a  
been a contender' bleat - just an observation that sometimes timing  
is everything...

Andy Armstrong, hexten.net

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