Thoughts on 2011

2011 has been an interesting year for me. Despite the economical crisis and the widely spread negative feelings related to it, I'm not feeling bad at all. This might seem strange, considering the fact that I didn't (officially) work and didn't even look actively for a job. Such behavior isn't tolerable for many, but I don't care. Working alone is for me ten times better than allowing other people to belittle and humiliate me. I prefer controlling my own world rather than allowing external factors to take over it. Crisis or death do not scare me as much as certain types of people.

That said, I am happy with the things I learned this year. I realized that they take time—connecting the dots and seeing parts of the big picture doesn't happen overnight. There are always some parts of the puzzle missing, which means that the more I learned, the more I felt how negligible my knowledge is. So I still need to understand fully that letting go of things the way they are instead of losing time digging every hole is the only way to go. This is a kind of a challenge. In the next year I need to concentrate more on practicing and doing for prolonged periods of time. Only this way I may be able to see something through from start to finish.

Working alone has the benefit that nobody is disturbing you, so you can concentrate much better. By doing it daily, it becomes almost habitual, which is good for self-discipline and efficient use of time. Going in a steady direction can sometimes require will, which in turn can quickly deplete energy, especially when it doesn't produce something of immediate value. The possibility for burnout is quite high, but I tried to balance somehow, despite the intrinsic drive to do more.

Maybe the most significant mistake I did this year was not trying to apply immediately the things I learned. I should have taken a more balanced approach between learning and practice instead of aiming to do them sequentially. There were some things that I shouldn't have lost time reading, but it's hard when you can't exactly define what you are looking for. There were concepts that I didn't understand fully (like closures and scope in JavaScript; the way some design patterns use interfaces), others I haven't found (how object composition might be beneficial in a more complex and interconnected system) or others I didn't like (using biased libraries to polish browser inconsistencies or using CDNs to minimize download of common resources).

I suspect that being unable to show new, completed tangible things at the end of the year makes me less of a capable worker in the eyes of potential employers. I won't try to convince them otherwise. Giving "legitimate reasons" for why things are the way they are isn't my strength. Maybe I'm just too curious to complete anything after all.

I still think on a couple of ideas I have, but so far progress has been slow. If I overcome my impulse to check how things are supposed to be done, I may actually go faster. Ideas are nothing without execution, but... the right execution on a wrong idea is troublesome. I think that great ideas need time to complete themselves in economically sound concepts that are hard or even impossible to imitate. Only such ideas have a chance to survive. Usually people are one of their pillars, because every person is in some way unique and has valuable experience unavailable to others. So the only thing to figure out then remains how to integrate yourself in your idea. This is something I'm going to explore myself too.

I also think it's better to do more with less. Seeking ways to improve productivity must be the goal of every employee, and cutting budgets only makes this more apparent. If someone can do the same amount of work for fewer hours or with fewer people, then he has competitive advantage in a way the he can produce a cheaper product. So far such differences were partially distorted in some areas through governmental or other types of subsidies. For example, today I purchased two imported Greek and Chinese products, which were much cheaper than similar Bulgarian ones. Such subsidies practically kill businesses in entire countries and the entrepreneurial spirit within them. This creates imbalance and social problems. I support only constant intrinsic improvement with maximum stretch of every worker before employing additional ones. People lose their jobs now, because companies were overstaffed, so blaming the economy for everything isn't right. When you can't pay for a house, you shouldn't buy it; when you can't afford an employee, you shouldn't hire it.

I was always skeptical about open-source technology. It's simply not sustainable—people who work for free also need to live somehow. They need to have a paid job and be one step before their competition. If we think short-term, open-source can survive, but not long-term. Software has its price, otherwise noone would be working on it. More than ever, people need to accept that. I suspect that we'll see more ebb from open-source projects.

I'm always open to communication with all of you. So if you think, we could help each other, let me know. Thank you for reading this and being mentally with me (despite being unable to comment so far). I wish you Happy New Year!

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