Today I am on my soapbox. These are words to the wise for working people everywhere, but especially to a certain generation – mine – and to a certain gender – women. If “getting the job done” requires that you work 70 hours a week while other people work 40, then the solution is that you need to stop doing it. I’m not talking about the time crunch when everyone is working on a big project until the wee hours of the morning. I mean those situations where other people go out to play golf on Saturday while you are in the office because “No one else knows how to ___ .” Fill in the blank. Then stop doing it. If you died, they would find someone else and there is no reason for you to do the work of two people unless you are getting the pay of two people, and even then only if you want to do it.
So.. having learned this belatedly, here is what I am doing in my spare time instead. First, I signed up for Flickr. I don’t even own a camera, other than the one on my iPhone, however, people are continually sending me photos, particularly about judo. Also, several articles I read lately have mentioned Flickr as one of the few things my former favorite technology company, Yahoo had done right lately. A flickr account allowed me to add a slideshow to my personal blog, which is mostly about judo. (Among other reasons, before the whole statistical programming, founding companies gig, I was world judo champion.) Since I have a Yahoo account it took me about five seconds to set up my Flickr account. This is a very wise design because it allows them to sign up people like me who are only mildly interested in their product.
Second, I started checking out iGoogle gadgets. Turns out that, since I have a blog on blogger I somehow have a Google account. As with Yahoo, a very smart move. Sometimes designers assume that making it almost effortless to sign up and/or use their product will only attract the clueless, and, as I have been known to say myself, “Stupid people with money” is probably not a very lucrative target market. In truth, very few people will be as interested in your product as you are, especially, as in the case of gadgets, the “product” is four quotes of the day or a National Geographic photo of the day. Making it very, very easy to use is smart marketing. Didn’t I just say I was tired of working all the time?
Twitter is another mini-application I am checking out. I included the link to the Twitter blog here because I found that more interesting than the Twitter home page itself. I am not entirely convinced that this is anything that will interest me, but I did notice Twitter updates on someone’s blog, and Jennifer Laycock had some interesting and positive comments on her blog about it, so I figured, what the heck.
I am taking a month off after next week, come hell or high water, and I have a whole lot of things planned for “wasting” my time. That includes messing around more with all of the above, making real use of my O’Reilly account (the media company, not the idiot on TV), writing a couple of articles for scientific journals, checking out a few more new applications or mini-apps, reading my favorite technology blogs and about a dozen books. And you know what? I will feel no guilt! I learned SAS programming, statistics, FORTRAN, BASIC and HTML all because I thought it would be cool stuff to know. Turns out you can make money with that computer stuff – would would have guessed it back in the 1970s when I was in college? The truth is, you can’t predict what will be useful.
Even if it all turns out to be as useful as programming in MUMPS, I don’t care. I’ll be 50 years old this year, I’ve been working for 35 years and if I want to be useless for a month or so, I earned it!