Facebook and Twitter have won. It’s over. Despite people claiming they’re not “open” or their privacy issues “suck”, this is a good thing.
It is good because it has solved one of our longstanding problems as a species: our need to connect.
Now, if I wanted to quickly send a message to someone I’d of course want to use a system that is beautiful and cohesive, one that works as it should (according to its “essence”, as Walter Isaacson has put it). But guess what, I don’t want to have to look around on 20 different sites to see which one is the flavor of the month and see if that particular person is a part of it. Facebook and Twitter have won because they’re ubiquitious.
This is different from most tech issues where the use of a device is singular. Only you use your smartphone and it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the world has; that phone can make calls, text messages, and picture/video messages to anyone else in the world who has a smartphone.This is not true for social networking. It is completely dependent on the number of participants in the network.
For instance, I just sent a group message to 7 of my college roommates using Facebook. It was as easy as, pull up the existing thread, type my message, click send. At no point did I have to wonder about what network they were a part of or any of the details of sending it. This matter of sending a message to a group of friends is solved.
So forget Path, Stamped, and all other “new” social networks that come about. This is a problem that’s been solved and doesn’t need reinventing or redefining.
I’ve officially started work as a professional developer. Surprisingly, it’s been somewhat of an easy transition from unstructured life (world travel and apartment lounging) to waking up at 6am and resuming using my brain all day. This first week has primarily been spent on a combination of tasks: learning the existing power systems and how the various pieces interact with each other, and also setting up my development machine.
I’m extremely excited that I get to spend some time working on two of my favorite parts of computer science: networking aspects (which is important in the power field as many plants and substations are connected to each other) and operating system-like coding. Perhaps these two fields are far more prevalent in the professional world than it first appears to be, but I consider myself lucky that I get to spend time in such interesting areas.
One of my primary initiatives as a newly professional programmer is to spend a significant amount of time reading. I had a conversation via email with my cousin the other week asking him to recommend to me any books on programming that he thought would be helpful at the beginning of a career. He responded that it depends on whether a person wants to spend their time on the higher-level “theory” versus “tech-specific” kinds. In my mind both can be helpful at the beginning of a career depending on how you apply the techniques and the technology stack one works with. So, with that in mind, I’d like to keep my time nearly equally divided between the two categories.
Books that I’ve found to be highly recommended and I have plans to read in the coming months are:
- Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
- Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master
- And not programming specific but still a good read: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Have we arrived yet? Has everything in the 21st century been worth it? We’re living in a society where anything one wants and desires is available in a matter of seconds through an app. While so much of it is valuable and is a natural progression of our technological progress, much of what we’ve accomplished and built feels like it’s disconnecting us with what it means to be human. This isn’t meant to be an exploration into what makes humans most human but rather wondering if we’ve lost contact with one of the things that makes us human.
For the sake of this discussion let’s say that what makes us the most human is our connectedness with other humans. It’s our ability to gain share and gain new experiences through others. Traditionally, this has happened through spoken and printed word. So many technologies today allow us to sidestep the need for physical communication and replace it with communication in the form of sculpted pixels.
While this certainly may seem a bit like a case of “biting the hand that feeds you” given my technology background, at some point I feel we all must wonder: are what we’re building and spending our time with every day only separating us further from ourselves? I don’t mean to say that technology can’t aid this task, rather that sometimes it creates barriers to us further realizing our true selves.