What technology are you interested in?

Oct 3, 2021

I was talking with another developer on my team a while back, having a getting-to-know-you chat, and he asked me what technology I'm interested in. This question used to stymie me. Is there a technology I'm most interested in? If there isn't, should there be? What does it say about me as a developer if there isn't? Does it mean anything?

When I first started writing in earnest about 10 years ago, I used to get caught up in definitions. If I wasn't writing every day, was I really a writer? If I didn't have one or two genres that I wrote in, was I really a writer? After a while, I gained some confidence and listened to the other great writers who say over and over again "if you write, you're a writer." Putting words on a page, physically or digitally, was the only requirement.

The same thing happened with me as a developer. And I suspect it happens to a lot of us. If I'm not coding outside of my job, does that mean I'm not a developer? If I don't have a particular technology that interests me, does that mean I'm not a developer? This is what used to go through my head when someone would ask me that question. Am I doing this wrong somehow?

Fortunately as a developer I've been surrounded by many very kind people who have pointed out over and over that if you write code you are a developer. And no, that does not mean that you have to write code outside of your job. And not having a particular technology that you're fascinated with does not make you less of a developer or mean you're doing anything wrong.

In fact, what I've figured out for myself is that what I'm really interested in is building things that help people. That's it. Technology is cool, and I enjoy using code to build things, but in the end it's really about the people using the things I build. Thinking about what they might need and how whatever it is I'm building could help them is what motivates me more than anything else.

And that's what I told my co-worker yesterday. For me, it's less about the tools themselves than it is about how I can use those tools to help people.