Personal note on "Exploring a future of programming"

The other post was way too long already (over 9k words!), and it had a kind of serious vibe, so I decided to write some stuff more personally in this post. This is about Exploring a future of programming.

It is kinda obvious that I’m trying to do something essentially impossible for a single person to accomplish. I don’t feel like this is an obstacle, because I view all those things as a vision rather than something that I set to definitely build. As I said, I have no real idea what I’m doing, but I know the direction I want to go.

It may be that I end up actually building some of those things as I described, but it could also be that I discover different paths to take. The truth is that this is probably the thing I’ve thought the most about over my whole life (I started having some thoughts about this over a decade ago, when I was still in university). I found an opportunity to start working on it, and decided to take it.

It is painful to feel the naivety part of this thing every day. I keep asking myself if I’m really doing something useful, or if what I’m doing is smart. I second-guess myself almost the whole time. When it gets bad enough, I go full existential crisis mode and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life. It doesn’t help that on top of exploring different ideas about programming, I also have sometimes wildly different views on how to take a project like this to market, and how to run the company I started for this.

I quit my big tech job almost 3 years ago, went on a few adventures, and ended up here, working on this project. And it’s the most serious I’ve probably been in my whole life. I’m living off my savings, and I can’t help but feel that I’ve wasted an opportunity to grow a good career in big tech. I have friends who stayed there and are doing wonderfully nowadays.

Back when I joined Amazon, during their brainwashingorientation videos, there was a video from Jeff Bezos talking about why he started Amazon. I think that’s probably the best thing I ever learned while at Amazon. It’s a short video, go watch it.

This regret minimisation framework is what prompted me to quit my job in the first place and go do other things. And it’s something that I ask myself every couple weeks again and again, and ever since I started working on this project, the answer has always been the same: I think I’ll deeply regret not having tried to push it forward. And so I keep working on it.

In fact, I came up with yet another framework (which I have no idea what to name, so whatever) that helps me gauge how serious I am about this. I ask myself if I’d be happy trading my own life in exchange for creating a world in which my project is fully realised, just like in the vision I have for it. There were only two projects I ever said I’d be happy with this, and this one is definitely the strongest of them. Fuck yes, if it means giving the world a different way of programming that I think is much better, I’m out. I’ll see y’all on the other side.

Even with all of this reinforcement, some days are still hard to live. It’s an insane amount of pressure to find something that works, because my savings won’t last forever. I wish I were financially independent and could just life off dividends or whatever. In a way, this is good because it’s probably the best motivation for me to focus on the things that matter, but obviously it also sucks that it comes with this enormous pressure to make things work.

It’s a thin line between being a fool and just looking like one, but a few things make me think I really just look like a fool. In every job I’ve had, I impressed just about everyone with how technically competent I was/am. I’ve interacted with many people on technical matters, and the amount of public and private praise I’ve received is the kind of external validation that helps me a lot.

I also am the kind of person who’s not satisfied until I find the root of things. I love investigating things and looking for root causes. I love learning and understanding the root concepts on which something is based on. I don’t like to settle for just accepting things as true, I enjoy digging to understand exactly what makes them true.

I’ve read and analysed a lot of things related to tech startups, tech products, company management, and other related topics. I’ve read relatively old books that are praised by a lot of people and I was able to see where all the popular startup advice lines started. I understand the context in which those things were true, which is something conveniently hidden by the advice (the context is just way too long and people like to take advice in small sentences that feel impactful). I think I grasp the dynamics that made those things become true, and I think I know how they apply to what I’m doing.

There are a few other things that I won’t mention because this is reading too much like an ego boosting session, so I’ll stop now. But I am convinced that I have a good shot at making this project work. Obviously there’ll still be a lot of luck involved, but I’m doing my best to craft a large surface area for opportunities so that I can benefit from any luck that I encounter along the way.

And so I keep working on it. I’m sure that no matter what happens, I’ll at least be proud that I tried.