Building Art

I’ve been a bit a slug with the blog for the past month mostly because I spent two weeks being the most ill I’ve been in a long time. Between an anti-biotic happy doctor, a trip to the ER, enough steroids to make someone psychotic and a nasty chest cold on top of it, the past few weeks have been anything but a joy.

The only good side is it slowed me down enough to get caught up on some reading. The big project was Neal Stephenson’s Readme. I killed all 1000+ pages in less than a week. Yes, I’m a fan. No, it wasn’t as good as Snowcrash or Diamond Age, but it was still a good romp from one of my favorite authors.

The other book I finally killed was Seth Godin’s Linchpin. I had been reading it during lunch for the prior month, and finally just sat down and wrapped it up. This is really a book more of my computer geek brethren should read. Seth points out what looks pretty obvious in hindsight: base a career on building “art”, not on building widgets.

Art in this context is doing something that amazes people. In our current economic climate, being a widget builder is the surest way to work yourself out of a job. Following directions and building widgets is a commodity, which means some dude in India or China will be happy to do it for a quarter of your salary and they won’t whine about the increasing costs of the company health benefits.

The guys who actually think outside the box and create things are the linchpins, the irreplaceable assets that separate the average from the exceptional. Jonathan Ive is a linchpin. Linchpin’s are the people every company wants to have because they are the ones with the ideas who take risks.

So I recommend reading Linchpin if you care about your career. If you’re passionate about what you do, the book should confirm you passion. If it is a blinding flash of revelation, you have a lot of catching up to do.

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