Looking Ahead

I started this blog because I love to write. At the time I started it, blogging was what passed for social media, but I wasn’t necessarily looking for a social experience. I just wanted to write.

I was at a point in my career where I was fairly cloistered inside the windowless rooms of the Washington, DC defense contracting industry. I went home every day without anything to show for it, having left my work behind in places few could access. Blogging became a way for me to craft the technical skills I was developing into something demonstrable, something I could point to and say “that’s what I do.”

I started programming young, around the same time I started writing for pleasure. This is probably not coincidental. Piaget would probably say that I had reached an appropriate stage of cognitive development for both skills to emerge, possibly late in the concrete operational stage or early in the formal operational stage. Whatever the explanation, they emerged at the same time for me and, consequently, both have felt to me like forms of creative expression.

The farther one moves away from the defense industry, which fetishizes engineering, the more one encounters others who see software development as a creative process, albeit one that is expressed in a highly-engineered medium. This is probably true for all creative efforts. A sculptor must have an understanding of limits of a given material to create art that will continue to exist. The same can be said of a woodworker or a painter. So it doesn’t seem incongruous to me to think of programming as a creative expression.

I have experienced a push-pull tension between writing and programming for most of my life. This blog became an ideal way to use one thing that I loved and in which I had some reasonable capability to document and describe another thing that I loved and in which I had a reasonable capability. It ably served that purpose for many years.

More recently, this blog has foundered as my career has evolved. I write much less code now than I have in a long time. The tight coupling between this blog and my work as a programmer left it a bit adrift as my work has evolved. I work now primarily in a leadership capacity, as part of a team building and selling software tools. There has been a lot to learn and seeing how the software directly benefits people doing a wide a variety of work has been energizing. Thinking more strategically about software has reinvigorated my mind and my imagination.

Most of my technical work is now focused on data and all that entails, including some programming at the database level, but I also now work in an environment that encourages engagement and provides platforms to write about the work we do. Those platforms are the more appropriate place for the kind of technically-oriented writing I have traditionally done here.

As I have moved into more of a leadership role, I have found it to be interesting. The interplay between people with differing skill sets and skill levels, the interacting of people in the process of building software, identifying and working toward common goals, and learning to make the process of building and delivering software a satisfying experience for everyone involved is as fascinating to me as optimizing an algorithm ever was.

There is a lot there to explore. There is also a lot to explore away from the keyboard. As I have taken up running, the rhythm of my stride and the isolation of the miles seem to place me in a meditative state that is awakening parts of my mind and imagination that were muted by the defense world.

I started this blog because I love to write. I will continue to do that. How I write and what I write about will change and I can’t yet say with certainty how. Some would say I should start a new blog, that changing focus after so long will be jarring, that a clean break would be clearer. That may be so, but the desire to write and the desire to code have lived side-by-side in me for my entire life. They will continue to do so here.