Nathan Spencer

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An Ode to Making Things

March 2024

I've been in a reflective mood recently. Pondering things. Questioning things.

What greater purpose is there in life? What can I work towards, to strive towards with all the passion of my heart?

My answer, I think, is making things.

Steve Jobs, in one of his early interviews:

"Life can be much broader when you discover one simple fact: and that is, everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build things other people can use."

I think this captures the essence of what inspires me. Not taking the things of life as some accepted reality, but something that is completely arbitrary and that you can shape.

This is what I enjoy about programming. It's probably the only domain where it's boundaries are purely the edges of imagination. There's no gatekeepers to tell you what you can and can't do, other than the compiler!

I think there's a sense of egolessness in creating things as well which I admire - as opposed to sales, or acting, or politics, nobody really knows the creators of the lives and systems which quietly govern our lives. It'd be hard to find anyone who can tell you who the inventor of the COVID vaccine was which saved millions of lives, but everyone knows who the US president was at the time! But I think everyone would much rather live in a world with a vaccine instead of Donald Trump.

There are other properties I really enjoy (which I hope to expand on later):