A happier medium Tuesday May 9, 2006, 3 comments

In much the same way some animals can sense an oncoming storm, I’ve had this nagging feeling, deep in the back of my mind. Like a subtle itch I can’t scratch. I sometimes feel this is the result of having run my course in my current career, like I’ve grown as much as I can in this arena, and that maybe its time to move on.

It’s hard to know for sure. Professionally, I’ve done nothing else but web development – for ten years now. Many of my peers have written books, had speaking engagements, or started companies of their own doing the things they’re passionate about. I’m very passionate about the work I do too, but not to the same extent as others.

It’s not an issue of success. I consider myself very successful. Without meaning to sound arrogant, I am one of the best at what I do. This in itself might be the problem, but I don’t think so.

The web has become a fairly mature medium, and what was once new and exciting has become commonplace and mundane. I am not good with the commonplace – a character flaw I readily admit. It’s not the status quo I have problems with, it’s that there’s nothing but the status quo.

This isn’t to say the web has reached a point in which no more development will occur. I highly doubt that. New and enterprising minds will bend and torture the technology just as I and my peers have done for the last ten years, but I think for us, the originals, that evolution is over.

I also feel that the web has become so overburdened with research- and marketing-driven targeted assaults on buying power, that the “average user” (a non-existant idea if ever there was one) has become as disillusioned with the ‘net as they have with television. Add the constant struggle to keep evildoers and the hordes of viruses, trojans and worms out of the systems, and the Internet becomes something that is a bother to use. I suspect for purchase research and general information gathering, the Internet will remain the medium of choice, but for anything else – including recreation, I suspect the ‘net has passed its peak. Television, at least, requires no active participation.

I could, if I were so inclined, tackle these issues, and make the Internet a better place, but I don’t think I have it in me anymore. I want to do creative things, that appeal to all levels of my mind. I want to work to live. I’m tired of living to work. I’m no Type A, and I’d rather be sailing.

Maybe we all wear ourselves down on the leading edge eventually. A friend of mine, in the same industry, tells me that the way I feel (and he feels much the same) is situational, and I am inclined to believe him. I just can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a happier medium.


Daniel Tuesday May 9, 2006

One of the things I find tough to battle is entropy. All the systems we use—whether comprised of silicon or flesh— require maintenance if we hope to keep them. It’s this fight with entropy, I think, that drives us all crazy, for a couple of reasons (at least):

(a) It’s just a shitload of work to keep up. Whether it’s your job or your passion or your family or your…whatever. It’s a lot of work.

(b) If you prepare for that maintenance, that fight against the nature of degradation, you’re setting yourself up for another fight: quality vs. quantity.

Consider what the evening news would sound like if they only broadcast it when they’d found something truly newsworthy, something well-researched. Instead, we’re fed all this filler garbage to get viewers to get ad revenues to maintain a dedicated staff so that—when there is some news—the infrastructure exists to report it. You can say the same for government, or writers, or musicians, or web developers: you maintain a proportion of “pay the bills” work so you can do the “pay my soul” work, and likely the latter is a lower proportion than the former.

I don’t know what to do about it. There are myriad issues tied up in that, like scalability and common sense and presumed necessity versus actual necessity. If there were only one vehicle model made, we wouldn’t be inundated with car commercials or rebates or fret about what color to get or what have you; but, then again, there would be no competition to drive the industrious to develop better technologies, and we would lose the benefits of adaptive variation and market selection.

It’s a mess. I’m not sure if it’s always been/felt like this. I usually think it’s dangerous to assume that there was a time when things didn’t feel this overwhelming; but it only seems reasonable to think that there was. I wonder, if so, if life was really appreciably better or worse.

Daniel Tuesday May 9, 2006

Check out Hydragenic. He’s going through decompression after a long career in a similar field.

spook Thursday May 11, 2006

maybe it’s not your job. maybe it’s something more personal to you.

Commenting has ended for this post, but I'd still love to hear from you.

The website of Adrian Lebar

A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar, a twenty(!) year veteran of web design and development. He is currently managing web and mobile development teams at Canada’s largest and most beloved classifieds site, Kijiji!

He is a father, sailor, snowboarder, skier, cyclist, writer, artist, graphic designer, classically trained musician and afraid of heights.

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A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work.”
- John Gall


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