Vanishing Industry Entry Points

I got my start building web pages on simple forums. Arguing back and forth about the proper way to do things while the web standards movement was just getting its start. In an odd turn of events, I'm back where I started: making websites.

Given the path I took and the zeal I maintained to follow it, I can—hand over heart—confirm that I wouldn't be literate in HTML and CSS, I couldn't have had the opportunities to earn a living that I do now, if learning HTML, CSS and Javascript was like it feels now: Javascript, HTML and CSS. Now, nearly 20 years later, I have the discipline to learn more abstract programming concepts. But a lot has happened in the intervening years to make that possible.

Maybe, I could have still wound up where I am today if I got my start long after my adolescence. I'm not so sure. What I can't do is sit in my high tower and tell the next generation of kids that the “real” web is all components and higher-order functions… no matter what I'm interested in these days.1 Thankfully, everyone can still start where I did—even as a child—and make their own journey. My obligation, as a person who's made it this far, is to ensure there still people willing to help a young developer out getting their start.

Perhaps one of the real casualties of our community is common ground. We all have personal domains, but I haven't frequented a design forum in a dog’s age. Where would you go with an issue today? Right to stack overflow? Reddit? Are there still vibrant design forums? I'm still intimidated by those spaces, so I doubt I would have had the gumption to make a start if YouTube comments, Reddit threads and the like were my only mechanism for seeking help.


  1. My father was a heavy-duty mechanic and I'll never forget the day I visited his shop for lunch and saw only a table of 5–6 50ish year old men. Where are all they younger people? I asked. There were none. No apprentices, no journeyman, no one at all. It appears that a bulk of my generation moved passed the possibility of becoming a heavy duty mechanic. Could that happen in our fair industry? If the bar raises too high or the benefits don't seem to correlate with the difficulty of learning, then industries slowly fade. (Not that there will never be mechanics or developers in the future, but newer shinier industries will have their pick of the lot. Youtube Unboxer? Instagram Influencer?) 

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