Software Engineering Advice

Be excited – the field you are in is amazing and in its infancy. We have no idea what is possible yet.

Be inquisitive – I believe our field is a science like biology and physics. The universe is information, and this information cannot be destroyed — even in a black hole. Let this sink in: you are participating in the discovery of the workings of the universe. Discover the way it works.

Be confident – As Dorianne Laux said, “You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake”. Belief in yourself and your intuition are essential.

Be a builder – Always be building something. When building, as much as possible never start from scratch. Shore up an old foundation before building a new one.

Be scholarly  – a lot of people are interested in the exchange of ideas and theories. It’s important to participate in the discussion and in the places where that discussion happens. However, do not contribute just to be in the room.  Noise wins over signal. Don’t add to that.

As for seeking fame on the internet to get your ideas noticed: don’t. I always think of Rainer Rilke:

“Don’t ask anyone to speak about you, not even disparagingly. And if the time should come that you notice your name circulating among the people, don’t take it any more seriously than anything else you might find in their mouths. Think: it has become tainted, and dismiss it. Then take another, any other, by which God can call you in the night. And hide it from everyone.”

Be serious – people depend on technology more now than ever and they expect us to make sure it works. They aren’t friends, they are people with a life that needs to be bettered. Fans of your technology will not get you as far as you need to go, and aren’t to be relied on for signals of your progress.

Be open – Engineers can have a culture of sarcasm and cynicism. We become insular. Don’t do it. It will prevent you from connecting to others and seeing the bigger problems and the bigger solutions. You need the world.

Be supportive – as much as possible, run your friend’s code and listen to their ideas.

Be patient – This is about ensuring your ideas find expression.

Emerson said:

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty… to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”

I would call this more than shame, but for the ambitious is it like eating glass. Still, don’t fall for the desire to reveal everything to get a small credit from a thief that would steal your work. Ideas are often credited to those that first built them not to those that first had them. Don’t rush out. Build it, then reveal it.

Be humble – on this I have little practice, but many requests.