What I’m Up To

Part [part not set] of 4 in the series Stories

Yesterday, I spoke about thin culture, insecurity, and a possible way forward: telling and re-telling the story of us.

I don’t know what will thicken the software making trade’s culture. But I know (part of) what I’m trying to do: tell the story of us, re-tell it, and re-tell it again, as many times as it takes, until that story is the story of a community of kindness and creativity.

  1. I’m trying to make a sociotechnical approach to the trade normal. I want us to stop pretending that the life of a professional software maker is anything other than a rich inseparable mixture of the human and the geekery.
  2. I want to narrate all of my work as a programmer, not just the finished code, but the faltering, the false steps, the mistakes deep and shallow, the actual center of programming, which isn’t about knowing "the" answer, it’s about gradually improving "an" answer.
  3. I want to normalize what I call "the whole maker", an attitude that emphasizes the tremendous importance, direct and indirect, of a diversity of both humans and human experiences.
  4. I want to complicate the picture. I want to reduce our reliance on "always" and "never" and "just". I want to stop re-packaging every success into a branded method.
  5. I want to make mentoring and being mentored the dominant pre-occupation of our trade, our default go-to first-tool response.
  6. I want to make sure every person in software development understands and acts on the fact that every person in software development is a person, with a body, and a family, and a history, and a "better" that includes more than just money.

These are all things that I am trying — faltering, flopping, but trying — to spend my time doing. I am trying to do these things because I think they form a valid basis for re-framing the trade.

(And yes, soon enough I’ll start asking for people who like this approach to start paying me to keep at it. That’s faintly embarrassing for me to say out loud, which is why I’m saying it. We can talk about it another day.)

I am not thinking that this is the only way possible way forward. I’m just telling you it’s the best idea I’ve had so far. If you feel like joining me, if you feel like adding to that voice, if you feel like you have energy and alternatives, please do. I welcome it.

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