December 04, 2010

I Am Fake Hillary

These days I’m reminded of a Saturday Night Live bit from the ’08 campaign, featuring an exchange between Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton:

Palin: It’s truly amazing, and I think women everywhere can agree, that no matter your politics, it’s time for a woman to make it to the White House!

Clinton: No-o-o-o!! Mine!! It’s supposed to be mine!! I’m sorry, I need to say something. I didn’t want a woman to be President! I wanted to be President, and I just happen to be a woman!

I used to joke that I was largely unemployable, that my skills and ambitions are so specific that I could work at only a handful of companies, on a handful of projects*.  Sometimes there’s not much joke to it.

I didn’t come to Adobe because I wanted to “develop software,” or “work in high tech,” or “do product management.”  I came here to make Web design software suck less.  Everything else–the working in marketing, the moving coast-to-coast three times in two years, the blogging, the whole up-at-dawn pride-swallowing siege–is just a means to that end.

Why do I mention this now? It’s a note to myself as much as anything.  I’m not working on mobile software now because I want to work on mobile software per se, or to be trendy or whatever.  I’m working on it to solve real, specific problems, and to enable myself & people I care about to express themselves in particular ways.

Would it be better to be broad rather than deep, to be an MBA who’s interested in expanding markets, vertical integration, and “the art of the deal,” instead of an unfrozen caveman Web designer with an obsessive interest in graphics software?  I don’t know; maybe I never will.

“To thine own self be true.” I’m working on it.

* The night before a big demo few years ago, I had an anxiety dream in which I was being really obnoxious to my boss. Terribly disappointed in me, she said, “Wow, you were doing so well, and now… I could make one call, and you’d be product managing FrameMaker!” It was an illuminating moment: the deep threat isn’t losing my job, it’s working on something for which I lack passion.

Posted by John Nack at 12:40 PM on December 04, 2010

Comments

  • Eric — 12:58 PM on December 04, 2010

    I can certainly relate to that. I couldn’t see myself as anything but a photographer. And now I can’t see myself as just a photographer, but someone who goes around the world making photos.

    I’m worried what’s next? ;-)

    We’re glad you’re there John, looking out for us.

  • John Dowdell — 1:51 PM on December 04, 2010

    Another way to look at it… we’re at a significant inflection point in human history, where nearly every person on the planet will be able to have a universally-connected display screen in their pocket. This is right up there with the invention of movable type and low-cost books. The people being born right now will be quite different from us. Exciting.

    I’m grateful for the opportunity to clear away some of the underbrush leading to that future… short-term business thinking, techblog propaganda, other distortions which will only slightly slow the inevitable revolution.

  • Royi — 3:06 PM on December 04, 2010

    John,
    Sent you an email about problems we have we Photoshop Exchange service.
    Could you please assist us with that?

    Thanks.

    [I'm working on it. --J.]

  • MarkB — 3:52 PM on December 04, 2010

    Well, John, you could do a lot worse that being obsessively interested in graphics software *and working on graphics software.*

    Imagine being one of those poor shlubs like me who actually use FrameMaker (and not by choice) day after day, when they are also obsessively interested in graphics software…

  • Lyle — 4:15 PM on December 04, 2010

    lol – framemaker… now there’s a nightmare !

    [FWIW, I mean no offense to the FrameMaker team. I know there are plenty of people who swear by it. It's just my shorthand for all the "useful/important just not for me" things out there (e.g. having some tech job for the IRS). --J.]

  • John Lehet — 5:56 AM on December 05, 2010

    > I came here to make Web design software suck less.

    Photoshop: good job. It’s the Chartre Cathedral of software. It is awe inspiring and the best software ever. Thank you. As a web designer and serious photographer, I am very very grateful.

    Dreamweaver: Not sucking less.

    DW is so slow and buggy and has so much trouble in WYSWYG rendering good, clear, valid, CSS layouts without going to “Live View” mode, and it uses so much CPU in the background, that I hardly launch it. I spend most days in web development, with maybe 10 minutes of a day with DW launched. The good news is that moving back to hand-coding has clarified my thinking and approach. Textmate is amazing. I see the years I spent in WYSIWYG editors (GL and DW) as being my lazy years, in between the hand coding years.

    On the other hand, the early part of those WYSIWYG years, before the web moved to CSS, before GL was killed and DW became so slow and buggy, were my most productive out of the last 15 years as a web developer. I was more free to think visually and be creative. Thinking in code is a different approach. No matter what the hand-coding evangelists say, it’s slower.
    I would love to see Dreamweaver become anywhere near as good as photoshop. On the other hand, I get so disappointed with every DW upgrade that it’s hard to imagine wanting to ever even upgrade it again. If it improves, I might miss it. A good WYSIWYG web editor would be a good think. I’ll keep dreaming of it.

    I’m using DW on the Mac. Maybe it works better in Windows?

  • Ken — 4:13 PM on December 05, 2010

    John,

    Easy does as a friend of Bill W. would say. “To thine own self be true”, in my experience, is a life long process, as I trudge along the road of endless cycles of me looking at me.

    At 64, my perception of my life and life keeps changing.

    Like someone said, I don’t think much of myself, but that is all I think about”.

    Ken in KY

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