The end of the year is a great time for evaluation and retrospection; and the end of the decade is the same. It often seems that time passes slowly and changes pass quickly but it is probably the opposite. Personally, I have seen a lot of changes over the past 10 years both personally and within work and this post is an effort to evaluate and understand them.
How could I start without mentioning that within the past 10 years I have gotten married and had 2 children. Anyone who thinks that marriage and children will not change them, frankly is either lying to themselves, or drastically underappreciating life change. I could not think of another event that has changed my life so dramatically as having children. They literally stop your life and alter it.
I would not be as naive to suggest that everything with children is straightforward, and for me it certainly has not been. To the outside world, my life would seem that in the last 10 years I have gotten married and had 2 wonderful (if challenging) children, however, under the surface it has been the largest challenge imaginable. In computer terms, I could only describe having children as running a system that you don’t understand, that can stop working inexplicably at any time of day and that you dedicate your life to. But that does not even come close to the love that you have for your small, sometimes annoying, semi-clones of yourself.
I would probably suggest that I have had 2 major work changes in the past 10 years. Firstly, being made redundant in 2009 and starting my own business and secondly leaving that business and moving into DevOps. This almost perfectly intersects the past 10 years, with 5 years running Will Hall Online/Hallneg and 5 years working for others (Sealed Air, Diversey, CyanConnode and HeleCloud).
There have been challenging times across this, but I have heartily appreciated that not only do I get to work in a role that generally I enjoy, but I have also worked for (and alongside) some expertly talented people who I have learnt from and similarly hoped to teach.
At the beginning of 2010 I am not sure that I had presented at a single conference or meetup before. I end 2019 having presented many times to hundreds of people on a vast range of topics (software, devops, marketing, business, web, infrastructure). I have been honoured to work with Drupal, Docker and now GitLab community on a whole range of different sessions and look forward to more in the future.
I have so much love for Drupal as a community. The mantra of come for the software, stay for the community I would suggest is actually more relevant now than ever. Over the past 4 years I have massively reduced my implementations of Drupal, however, I always refer back to Drupal in a way of trying to understand how open-source communities work and can become better. For that I am truly thankful for everyone’s efforts for the project.
Becoming a Docker Community Leader was a great experience and led me to understand more about communities. I have been very involved with Drupal at a local level (Cambridge and UK), however, becoming more involved with Docker changed my understanding of software and communities.
Now I am also a GitLab Hero which has been a great experience and something that I look forward to doing more in the future. I am excited for what GitLab can offer to software development and think it has a chance to be able to make a great impact on the world of software, especially as it joins me at the intersection between DevOps, Software, Infrastructure and Security.
Lastly, I have celebrated (in some ways) that I have been able to play guitar for more than half of my life (I am 37 now and started at 16). I also have 16 guitars and have learnt to play piano slightly better. In fact, I have played in a number of bands, which has also been illuminating and actually I think that as a collective, playing music with others is almost spiritual.
I often wonder what will happen in the future. Currently, I would suggest that there will still be IT workers in 10 years time, and I would expect to be amongst them in 10 years time in one capacity or another. By that time, my children will be almost adults and I will have known my wife for more than half my life.
So onwards, because the future is what we have for tomorrow.