24 Mar 2003
When people ask me what I do, I usually like to be modest and say I do “web stuff.” But privately, I like to be a little more grandiose. I think of myself as an entropy fighter. I disambiguate. I forge distinctions. I create information, I make order from disorder, I sharpen boundaries, concentrate energy. What is information? It’s relationships. This is not that. The anthropologist Gregory Bateson defined information as “any difference that makes a difference” — differences which make no difference are just noise. There’s plenty of noise in the world, and my job is to battle it.
There’s the old story about the two workmen on a construction site, both doing the same thing. Asked what he’s doing, the first man says “I’m laying bricks.” Asked the same question, the second man says “I’m building a cathedral.” This is what I want to do: I want to build cathedrals, not lay bricks or build widgets or write PHP. Try thinking of your job on a scale that’s larger than the everyday — maybe even larger than your lifetime. What is it that you do?