For the past several years I’ve held on to the fantasy that if I maintained and developed new software development skills that I would, if all else failed, again be able to earn a living in the profession or perhaps even develop the next multi-megabuck app, as they are known today. But the world of computer technology and software development has undergone enormous change and the pace of this advancement is more than any one-person can keep up with especially if you are not engaged in it all day, every day.
Time and technology march on: horses gave way to the automobile, the steam engine ushered in the era of industrialization and the FORTRAN procedural programming language gave way to object-oriented JAVA, among others. All the code that some of us developed and sweated over is now, in all probability, gone and relegated to the bit bucket of history. Thinking back on some of the relatively primitive coding of those early years that is probably a good thing. All that is left to be said is that we made the technological contributions upon which the new technologies of today are built.
As a last gasp to hang on I attempted to continue my contribution by starting a website development business. In the mid 90s when websites were first being developed one person known as a web master usually built them. Now companies and businesses use whole teams of people: designers, coders, and others, to develop the site and link the site’s components up with a plethora of other web-based services including those much loathed ads and targeted tracking. To further complicate the mix of website development technologies there is now the exploding use of websites on mobile devices which has changed the way sites are developed in order to fit the small screen size. Some even go so far as to say that the era of the desktop and laptop computer is over and being replaced by those mobile and now wearable technologies all serviced by apps and sharable data in the “cloud.”
The days of the independent web master are gone and the skills required to develop and support what I refer to as a traditional website are of no value. Today these have been replaced by hundreds of services offering to develop a website for free or offer equally free capabilities for anyone to develop a site offering choices of templates along with drag and drop development techniques. The bottom line is that no one is willing to pay for skilled site development when they can get most of what they want or need for free.
Perhaps this is a good thing because it has opened up the internet to a wider community of people and organizations who could not otherwise afford it.
Having grown up, as it were, in the computer revolution and made what I like to think were contributions in areas such as industrial automation, interactive computer graphics and electronic document management, my greatest regret has always been that I missed out on the chance or was unwilling to take the risk to get rich developing the next great computer technology or app. Not that I did not have some great ideas but those ideas did not fit with the core business of the company and anything I came up with would have been owned by the company. So why bother?
But that was then during the now lost era of long time employment at one company where we stayed in order to ensure receiving a pension. With the loss of pension programs and all the frequent changes going on in corporations there is little that an employee can count on day-to-day. Nowadays the worker is pretty much on their own. In order to make it everyone needs to become an entrepreneur. Perhaps this is part of the reason we are now seeing so many internet billionaires.