You put in, on average, somewhere between 40 and 50 years working. Long hours, endless meetings, changes, deadlines and requirements. And at the end of it all, what’s left?
When I walk around in old cemeteries looking at the tombstones for people who were born during the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th century, it also states their profession. As if this is the defining factor, besides when they were born and when they died (Would I want a title on mine? Absolutely not).
And it just makes me wonder, in the times we now live in and the profession we have, what will be left to remember us? The work from generations before us is something we now admire, many hundreds of years later; architecture, paintings, music, writings. sculptures. If I were, say, an architect, I could leave something, a mark, to our children and their children.
When you work as a web developer, and especially a consultant, you know that within maybe two, three years, all, or at least a majority of what you did, will be gone. Just as of lately, maybe 80% of the work I’ve done for a customer since October last year was swiftly replaced just as my assignment ended. Not that it was poor code, but rather that they wanted to tweak and adapt it to their new strategies. And really, that’s fine. They paid for it, they own it, and of course they should do what they seem to be the best fit.
But the moral of it is what we have to deal with: here today, gone tomorrow. Literally. I bet that in about thirty (twenty? ten?) years from now, no one working with software will be able to name the famous developers of today. Software is ever-changing, technological progress just gallops ahead, and each year everything is four times as fast, lean and efficient as it was the previous year.
What’s my legacy?
I think I’ve given up on the naive ambition of leaving any legacy through my day-time work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I’m extremely interested in it. I just don’t believe that it will be remembered. Maybe it’s cynical, but on the other hand, maybe it’s better being realistic than nurturing some fake dream of living forever.
I guess that my humble hope instead lies in that with this blog I will make people think, hopefully inspire them, and instead build friendships. Legacy can come from writing, but it’s extremely rare that it comes from software developing. Which somewhat leads to the question: do we need a legacy?
Yes and no. I think it would be nice to know that we will remembered, not out of a kick for your ego, but rather that all you did in your life mattered at all. It is a dreadful thought if your entire life were to be forgotten a year after you’re gone…
I guess that my, no doubt, biggest legacy will be my wonderful daughters. To teach them well. To help, to guide and to assist them through life. The hardest part will have to let go, eventually. What I can do and leave behind me is two fantastic persons who will have been taught the lessons of being humble, sensitive and emphatic but also strong, ambitious and goal-oriented.
No doubt all of these are lessons they will have to learn themselves as well, but at the very least I can get them off to a good start. That will be my legacy.