Chris Padilla/Blog / Tech

Software is Measurably Valuable Creation

Last year I read Chad Fowler's The Passionate Programmer, and I still think a lot about these lines from his ending essay:

You could have chosen any number of career paths, but this one is exciting. It's creative. It requires deep thinking and rewards you with a sense of being bale to do something that most of the people you meet each day can't imagine being able to do. We may worry about progressing to the next level, making an impact, or gaining respect from our co-workers or our peers in the industry, but if you really stop to think about it, we've got it really good.

Here's what really sticks with me:

Software development is both challenging and rewarding. It's creative like an art-form, but (unlike art) it provides concrete, measurable value.

It rings true. It doesn't feel like music, art, writing, and software are all that separate. They're all simply different mediums for creation. Funnily, in my experience, they all have similar rhythms when it comes to starting a project to completing it. Thankfully, too, when one feels stagnant, it's easy to jump to another one. Stirring a boiling pot, waiting for the other one to simmer.

The wonderful thing about software is that it is a concrete service. It's difficult to really pin down the value of art. That doesn't dilute art's true importance and value. That might, in fact, be why music and art are wildly valuable. It's an act of awe and wonder, and you can't measure that.

What a fantastic creative balance, though, that software is a practice that allows you to directly create something to improve the lives of any number of people.

Early on in my current role, I met with teammates who walked up to me, shook my hand, and said "WOW, the kanban feature you developed makes my life SO MUCH easier! Thank you!"

I'm convinced that, in a wholly creative life, our practices need both sides. We need that which is directly beneficial to people, and that which entangles with the spirit of discovery and sensitivity. And I'm thankful for software as the form that balances exploration.

Here's the opening quote on Chad's essay:

But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, and in keeping yourself with labour, you are in truth loving life, and to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret. — Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet