Friday, October 14, 2011

Steve Jobs: A Personal Inspiration

Here's are my personal thoughts about what Steve Jobs has meant to me, and how I hope many aspects of his like will continue to serve as an inspiration to me for many years to come.

I have been an Apple user since the earliest days, and have exclusively used Macs as my personal computers since 1984.

It was partly the stark simplicity of the early Macs, and of many later Apple products, that led me to focus my career on usability and simplicity in software engineering.

But perhaps, above all, it is Steve Job's rejection of many technology dogmas, and his advice to not be afraid of changing course, and even quitting a job that one doesn't like, that I think it is most important to take as an inspiration.

Steve Jobs quit college to pursue his dreams. While I don't recommend that people quit their studies or jobs on a whim, I certainly believe that if somebody doesn't feel they are following a life path or career path that leads to fulfilment, then changing course is critical, even if it is risky and frowned upon by others.

This encourages me to question the norms of my profession, and to try new approaches, even in the face of discouragement by others. My career passions are writing, software design and teaching. Yet a professor of computer science is boxed in by narrow criteria of how they should publish. A former Dean even told me that I should not be developing software since, that did not constitute research.

I have spent a lot of time on educational research, even though that is looked at by many others as a second-tier research topic.

Recently I have made a decision change the way I do research, even though this means fewer papers and may cost me future grants. I have a passion for what I believe is the future of software development – model-oriented programming. And I want to develop Umple as an example of this and a vehicle for exploring ideas in that domain. To do that I have to put personal effort into actually doing software engineering (including model-oriented programming itself), which takes time away from writing papers. I also have to require the same of my graduate students and have to be fastidious about software qualities such as usability, and other matters that many researchers would say should not be my concern.

So may Jobs rest in peace, and may he serve as an inspiration to help people like me who don't want to have to slavishly follow the norms of their profession and instead to follow their passions.

No comments:

Post a Comment