Growing Old on the Web

August 18, 2007

Maybe it's because I just had a birthday. Or maybe it's that I recently passed my 10th anniversary of building web sites. But lately I seem to hear more people than usual wondering if this "working with the web" business isn't a younger person's game. We've also been incredibly, exhaustingly busy at work this past year, so that may have something to do with it, too. But it's a valid question, and I'll admit I've wondered the same thing myself once or twice. Working on the web means working faster and faster. You can never know or do or learn enough. Like the cosmos, every minute the web expands and speeds up, and you begin to understand you will never catch up. At 47, I understandably might not want to work so hard. I might even be forgiven if, like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, I occasionally grumble, "I'm too old for this shit." Running this fast just to stay in place is a young person's sport. There's no getting around it—these days I can't pull an all-nighter without lingering repercussions. But if building the web requires the energy, drive and audacity of youth, where does that leave those of us nearing or past the half century mark? Is there a place, a role, a need for us? After a lot of thought, I believe there is. Many older developers bring with them valuable experience with the world and human nature—experience crucial to sound decision-making. Knowledge of a wide-range of subjects and disciplines, gathered over many decades of curiosity and questing, can produce penetrating insights, reliable judgments and—dare I say it?—even wisdom. In a virtual world rushing fitfully in all directions after every new innovation or chance opportunity, aren't those qualities that might be useful? At 47, I'm not ready yet to leave the hurly-burly of the web. I think I still might have something to offer. Yes, I may not make it there as quickly as I once did, but I can see more clearly than ever where we're headed. Surely, there's a place for me still.

Comments

Kathy, you've worked harder and longer hours, been more productive and gotten more accomplished than I have over the last few months. So, either I'm lazy, or you're Superwoman. I'm leaning toward the latter.

I know it always feels like you're behind when you're in this business, but I don't think anyone we work with could argue that you're not keeping up. You have a freakin' iPhone! Come on, you're as cutting-edge as you've ever been...perhaps more so. The wisdom piece is just an added bonus.

Getting old isn't for sissies!

In all this time also the web got older and web 2.0 is already mature, and we started to speak about web 3.0, but funny enough web is still young and there are still a lot of thing to do.

You guys are so right! The web is still young, I'm no sissy...and yes, my birthday gift was an iPhone. Okay, I'm done whining. What's next? Bring it on, baby!

:)

Kathy

I am sort of in the space between not so young and getting older haha, but I always feel like I need older people in my life to remind me of where things came from, so that I am not tricked into thinking that some re-marketed whatever is actually new and must have. Also, to help me find the underlying structure in things that plays out in time and is only seen by paying close attention.

I've been designing and programming for the past 10 years too and feel exactly the same way as you do Kathy. Working from my home office can be both liberating and isolating - I have lots of time to be there for my family and friends - and I'm always here! Double edged sword in my books. When I see the young guys (for they always seem to be guys) straight out of college competing for the same clients I shake my head.

Luckily, most of my clients are shaking their heads too and looking for someone like me - older, wiser, who has found her own way around the roadblocks that appear - and still looking good!