I am fast approaching 40 years old which is pretty fucking scary in general, but even more so when you work in software. No more am I allegeable for jobs, as I’m no longer in a place where I am viewed as something for the future. These amazing and brilliant young people coming through are just so much better than I ever was. It’s a young people’s game, programming.
I have many friends who are of similar age and we share a common scare. We’re only half way through what our rulers hope is our professional career. This is a pretty scary thing, I’ve had one type of job since 1998: programming stuff for the web. Is that what I’m doing for the next forty something too if I were to have the fortune of living that long? We’ll have to work until we die as the Norwegian public pensions will be all gone. Is a move into the management tier the only option?
Already we’ve come full circle on so many things. Everything with cloud computing is just a repeat of ideas coming out of time sharing and similar concepts from the 60-ies. The Web vs Native war is just another iteration on Web vs Desktop which raged during the start of this millennium. Listening and reading the discussions held by the new generation of thought leaders you realize that everything they see as new and amazing really just are iterations or increments of things done a while ago. The dilemma is this: how can you keep being interested and stoked about new technology when everything is just an iteration of what you’ve seen before?
Most people seek refuge in management, either as middle managers for teams or higher up. Programming is by many viewed as a young persons game, where you’re expected to work insane hours and use every breathing minute learning new things. Luckily this notion is beginning to fade and people realize that burning out all programmers and scaring them into management is a bad thing. I think the only way for programming as an industry to evolve is by making sure at every level we have a mix of newbies and veterans. Companies with more age diversity have the opportunity to actually learn from past mistakes, but also add the spirit of youth to push things forward. I hope..
Luckily I have worked at a company with a little bit of diversity when it comes to age. Seeing how some of my elder colleges are passionate as twenty year olds fills me with hope that you can actually keep doing what you love for an entire career.
So aging, funny thing. Amirite?