Technological Dinosaur

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Matt Haughey, the creator of MetaFilter, recently sat down with the Willamette Week for an interview. Most of the interview is about MetaFilter and is quite good, but this part caught my eye:

Geeks who know how to program and make things should be able to make a small thing that runs forever and make $100,000 a year and live off that. I mean, what is wrong with that? It’s an awesome goal.

I never got that message anywhere in the tech community. Like, what is wrong with making a decent living in doing something you love forever? And then people put that down as a “lifestyle business.” Or ask, “How are you going to change the world or make the next Facebook?”

It’s like nobody sings unless they want to be Britney Spears. That’s stupid—we should all sing in bars three nights a week if we like it and get paid as professional musicians. Who says you have to be a superstar? I hate the whole “rock-star programmer” thing where you have to make the next Facebook.

I couldn’t agree more. Quitting my job was easily the best decision I ever made, despite the hardships.

As Matt touches on, in large parts of the tech community, independent life is not even really considered as a path to success — it’s seen as dilettantey and unserious. This has always sat really wrong with me: my heroes were people like Brent Simmons and Gus Mueller and Wil Shipley. These guys were out there and selling Mac software simply because it made them happy.

I guess that attitude is somewhat anachronistic; the wider tech industry has celebrated the easy money, get rich quick, dot com lifestyle for some time now.

I’m going to continue to do what makes me happy, though. Why would I do anything else?


  1. Griffin Caprio replied on July 15th, 2011:

    Honestly, this isn’t just the tech industry. It’s everywhere. Easy solutions are celebrated because there’s money in them. The message is “happiness is hard, I have the answer and you’re not good enough to do it on your own” The ones that make money from those solutions have an incentive to make sure they’re upheld. it’s no different in the tech industry. VCs, TechCrunch, Valley Lawyers, etc… all know it’s a house of cards that comes down if people start to question it.

    To sustain your life for the long run, you have to tune out all the junk and ask yourself what really makes you happy.