Historically, it seems that I do my best writing in the hours between midnight and dawn (I generally don't need a lot of sleep). However, there are many times in my life when it becomes difficult to push back the constant noise of phone calls, email, instant messages, and snail mail, such that I find it best to run away to a region with fewer transistors than normal in order to write. That's what I've been doing the last couple of days, and so - while coming up for air for a few minutes - am blogging from the mountains of Colorado. Yes, wireless high speed Internet connections are even available at 14,000 feet above sea level. Ain't technology wonderful?
Speaking of technology, over the past few months I've had a handful of software professionals lament to me about the state of the industry and how they would never encourage their children to enter the field. There is no doubt that the global economic malaise continues in our space, manifest by ongoing consolidation, fewer small companies in the mix bringing out-of-the-box ideas to the market, and underperforming companies in the middle struggling for survival. Couple that with very real angst that individual developers experience over layoffs and the global relocation of jobs and it is indeed grim from some angles. On top of that news, a number of reports acknowledge a global decline in the number of students graduating from universites with some sort of degree in software.
When I talk to non-software audiences, I'm still stunned by how many such folks simply don't have a clue what software is about. All too often when non-technical people ask me what I do I'll say that I'm in computers and they'll reply by saying, "oh, my son/daughter/cousin/nephew is in computers too!" but when I probe, I realize that most of the time they mean that their son/daughter/cousin/nephew knows how to install the latest Windows patches and/or can plug in various USB peripherials and make them work most of the time. I'll usually smile and reply with a polite "how interesting," but then when I try to explain what I do in software, their eyes generally glaze over. For most of the world, what we do in our world is sill very intangible and mysterious.
I can't speak for my colleagues, but personally I am still very much excited by the potential of software and the opportunities that exist for innovation by individuals in the field (the US Department of Labor has similar optimistic views). For this reason I continue to encourage the children and young adults in my life to pursue work in software. Some of that generation will likely enter our field directly, but I expect that most of the next generation who dabble in software will do so not as a software professional but rather as a domain expert in some specific field that requires extreme skill in using and writing software for that domain.