Philip Greenspun wrote a post on his Harvard blog about MIT grads over 50 having a hard time finding work. In his post he cites a piece I wrote about how I would have hired Doug Engelbart, when I was running my first startup in the 80s. His piece is getting a lot of traffic. That's good. I'm glad people are thinking about this.
My saying I would have hired Doug Engelbart in the 1980s means nothing about the job market in 2015. What I would have done in 1985 is irrelevant today. I'm not hiring. And I'm pretty sure my counterpart in 2015 doesn't feel the way I might have felt then.
I might have hired Engelbart because his work laid the foundation for the work we were doing at Living Videotext. He felt his work wasn't finished. We could have helped him achieve his vision, and he could have helped us make our software more useful. Perhaps we could have skipped years of evolution, avoiding the blind alleys he had to back out of in his earlier work.
I turned 60 over the weekend. It's a tough birthday, or it was for me. I didn't want to have it in public, so I told Facebook not to announce it. I think younger people don't understand. I finally think I understand how they don't understand. The ones that love me say I'm really young, and I appreciate that. I think they mean my thinking is flexible, and I'm excited about the future, like a young person might be. But the clock ticks in predictable ways. My body is that of a 60 year-old. And the world treats me as one as well. Most people can't see or feel the enthusiasm an older person has. Or they don't believe. Or they don't think.
Like Engelbart in the 80s, I feel my work is not done. I still pump out ideas executed in software at an amazing clip. I wonder why people don't wonder how I do it. The processes I use, investing in good tools and underpinnings, and paying attention to good features of other people's software, makes it easy and quick to try out new ideas. Some of them are really worth it. Look at the list of achievements on the smallpicture.com home page for an idea.
I want to share what I know. I want people to use my products. There's not that much road in front of me to get the work done. I'm pretty sure that there will be a lot left on my plate when I finally hang em up for the last time. I guess that's a sign of a rich and productive creative life.