December 12, 2013, 3:27 PM —
Image credit: Flickr/DannonL
I have been covering technology since the Internet was just an argument among geeks and Bill Gates was an eligible bachelor. Along the way, I've met some interesting people. Some of those people are legend now. But all of them were once trying to decide – just like everyone else -- what to do with the future. IT, like any other field, is full of people. And those people all have origin stories - what got them excited about technology. In the course of my career, I've discovered that I like to know what those stories are. Because while not everyone who starts out building things with old TVs, bits of code, or circuits, ends up changing life as we know it, some of them do. And every story leads somewhere. The world of IT may have its crap jobs and challenging social situations. But it is also full of brilliance.
The people who created the technology we use today have completely changed the world in a very short period of time. And the people creating technology now are doing the same with our futures. There have been mistakes. Not every idea sticks. And not every day is awesome. There is no-doubt plenty to complain about. But I'd like to focus on the moment that changed someone's life, pointed them in the direction that led them here -- where someone who writes a blog about technology wants to ask why they do what they do.
I have often wondered – frequently out loud – when I meet people in this industry if there is a moment or event that inspired them to choose this work. Wondering out loud, more often than not, elicits a fantastic story. You know some of those stories. Extreme shyness and a father adept at electronics (famously) led one teen to change the world as we know it. Another (almost as famously) was inspired by the impending birth of his daughter to disruptive inspiration that led straight to a culture obsessed with selfies. For others (less famously) it was a chemistry teacher making an offhand suggestion, a father who said, “build your own Barbie” (and handed this future engineer a saw instead of a doll), a toy, a class, or an offhand comment from a stranger. I could go on. In fact, I intend to. Right here. Every high-tech rock star – and everyone who has simply found a job they love -- has an origin story.
I often share these stories at parties or use snippets of them in articles I write. But here, I want to take the time to explore those moments that lead people to this work. You never know your origin story till you look back, while contemplating your success or failure -- and see how one past moment probably led directly here. But other people's stories – their motives and inspirations; why they persisted and what they learned – might well become part of your origin story. That's my hope anyway. Maybe you need inspiration or encouragement mastering a difficult subject. Maybe you are stuck in a job or on a project that's crushing you. Everyone has been there. And a lot of them survived.
If you have a great story – or know someone who does – I'd love to hear it. Maybe together we can inspire the next disruptive inspiration or future-changing idea to persist.