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Why being a craftsman matters to me

On Tuesday, I gave a talk at the inaugural Software as Craft meetup on why being a craftsman matters to me, or more so, why identifying as a person who makes things helps me not go nuts. My friend Mike filmed it, so there may be a video (there was some air conditioning noise, so TBD). Here is an excellent photo he took, and I’m super proud that I hold a microphone like a pro:

Pam Selle at Software as Craft, credit Mike Fox The slides:

This was a rehash of a talk I gave at FRED in 2013 when I basically used it as a performance art piece (after I was invited to talk, fwiw) to deal with my dad being sick. He had an 85% chance of being perfectly fine at the end of treatment, but of course, all I could hear at the time is the 15% that he wouldn’t be, because math. It really messed with me, and made me lash out at people (at the time) who didn’t deserve it, and maybe (probably) they never knew why.

As for dad, he’s doing fantastic now. (Math?)

The essence of the talk is that by being someone who makes things, I feel a lot more grounded because I can “show” my work. I grew up understanding that my dad made things, and he’s such a creative, curious, and fantastically strange man, and I can only hope to aspire to such quirkiness. It’s why I work on the web and not in a scourgy Java factory or whatever they are, people who write software but hate fun and eat lunch at their desks and never stop and draw pictures and would never invent foot golf.

There’s a wrinkling, yellowing comic on my wall that says “I’ll never forget that one night I drank too much and woke up with a job in sales.”

Doing creative things as my main thing that I do for money and health insurance (what one might call their “day” “job”) keeps me grounded, which is why I drive myself a little more nuts sometimes figuring out how to balance my love of business for my love of creative work (over time, I’ll work out a way to balance them both, I’m sure). I do so many other things besides making (writing, speaking, podcasting, teaching), most in the service of sharing what I do with others, so that they can make themselves … and they seem to like it. So, I guess I’ll keep going?


Other update: I’ll be speaking at Powered by JavaScript, and I have a discount code that gets you $50 off the $300 ticket price. It’s SpeakerSelle and it’s good for the “August special” ticket.

One Reply to “Why being a craftsman matters to me”

  1. Very enjoyable talk. It is very meaningful to be able to put to something and say, “I made that!” Sometimes with software is it harder to get that point across to friends and family who aren’t in the field. But I have experienced it with software as well as other creative endeavors that I have been involved in.

    Regarding your comment, “So, I guess I’ll keep going?”, as one who has definitely benefited from your desire to give back to the community, I vote for continuing!

    And I am glad that your Dad is doing fine! He sounds like a real cool guy.

    Here is the link to the video of your talk:

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