George Washington stood up in a little boat on the Delaware and somebody caught it on film. JFK slept with some sexy ladies. Hitler designed a stylish arm band that was all the rage in Germany for a few years. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a couple books that some people enjoyed.
I want to leave something behind. A book, a movie, a website even - anything. I want something to be here after I die, something that says “damn right he was here.”
About a week ago, I received the March issue of Wired. It’s thickness was entirely unlike that of Penélope Cruz’s accent (HAH! GET IT?), which was disappointing. However, this issue featured the 2005 Wired Rave Awards, where they award people for the cool things they did in the past year. I could care less about some of them - for example, Shigeyuki Hori of Toyota took the Business award for pushing the Prius.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for environment-friendly transportation, but this isn’t terribly inspiring for someone in my line of work. The ones that struck me were the younger folks that did something cool. People like Robert Lanza, who took the Medicine award for his work with embryonic stem cells. At the age of 13, he genetically engineered albino chickens in his parents’ basement and, with the help of some Harvard scientists, his work was published in Nature while still in high school. Or Blair Harrison, the 38-year old President and CEO of iFilm, who took the award for Television. Or Mark Fletcher, the Bloglines CEO that took the award in Technology. Or Ana Marie Cox, the 32-year old from Wonkette, a nominee for the Blog award.
These folks have all made a name for themselves. They all fall into what I would call “old,” but only because I’m pretty young. Truth is, none of them are really old. They’ve all done something cool early in their lives.
When I came to college three and a half years ago, I wanted nothing more than to spend my life programming in a cubicle where people wouldn’t bother me. Lately, I’ve had this impending feeling that I should be working on something awesome, something that will change the world, or at least make people say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that guy.” I don’t want to be a celebrity, I just want to be remembered.
The problem is that I’m nowhere near as smart as I’d like to think I am. I’ve always done well in school, but that just kind of comes naturally to me; I’ve never really excelled in anything. Take PHP, for example. I’ve tinkered with it for a couple years, I’ve done some decent projects, and I can get the job done, but I’ve never really become a expert. I don’t know anything about XML handling or any other advanced applications of the language. I manage to do what I want to do without pushing myself further.
I don’t know if this is just general laziness, or a fear of failure, or what. I’d like to think that I could have the capabilities of people I perceive to be more successful. Jordan’s a good example: when he came to RIT, he didn’t know a SCSI drive from his own ass, but now he’s one of the best sys admins I know. Or Resig - he continually amazes me with the work he produces (just wait till you see the new Schedule Maker). Maybe guys like them are just naturally predisposed to be good at this kind of stuff.
Or maybe I’m just being a wuss and should find something to get really good at.