Technology and Fun, XT16

The importance of fun in our work

by Jon Pither

Published 2016-06-15

The fun factor

One of the most important moments of my Clojure journey was when my colleague - Håkan Råberg - had the audacity to suggest that we should try Clojure because it might be enjoyable to do so. This earned him a reprimand from a colleague: "We are not paid to enjoy ourselves". Hakan's calm response was this: "You're right - we're not paid to enjoy ourselves. But then it doesn't hurt".

This has stayed with me. You can put up many arguments for wanting to use Clojure - immutability, functional idioms, simplicity etc, but in truth I code Clojure because I enjoy it.

I feel conflicted to say this. There's an attraction to say that enterprise software shouldn't be fun, that it needs to be difficult and challenging enough as to warrant adequate compensation.

This is an extremely outdated view. Just taking an introspective look at our own lives as developers it's clear: that when we enjoy what we do, we're many times more productive. And when we're productive, everyone benefits.

XT16

At JUXT we're hosting a one day curated conference on October 6th, and the theme is having fun with technology.

This theme was inspired by one of our speakers - Portia Tung - founder of The School of Play, dedicated to promoting happier adulthood through lifelong play. She takes play seriously, asserting that companies with a playful culture do much better overall, with their employees wanting to take more risks and to operate with reduced stress and greater enjoyment. Portia's highly entertaining talk will explore just how vital 'play' is in unblocking our creative processes, and to help us have a happier life, inside and outside of work.

This gelled with me. Programming to a certain extent is all about playing; using our imagination to solve problems. When we're in 'flow mode' and our career is working, then programming is one of the best jobs in the world.

Our Theme

Looking at our conference it's all about having fun with technology.

Whether it be Karsten Schmidt creating playful 3D WebGL renderings via ClojureScript, or Håkan Råberg making a personal search for the bounds of simplicity by creating a Scheme that compiles direct to assembler, Sam Aaron on performance coding, all of our speakers - even those taking the philosophical high-ground and surveying the state of the industry - are all having fun with tech. This is our theme, and it's what we want to share.

Check out our XT16 conference page for more details.

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