Let's See You Do Better

Tuesday, March 25 2003

Russell just reminded me of something that I think is important. People will ask sometimes “How did you get into doing web stuff?” and I’ll think about some of the stuff I was doing right before getting my first web related job. But that’s not exactly how I got into web stuff.

Before the web, there were bulletin board systems. You’d use your computer (or a terminal) and a modem to connect to another computer. Some BBSes allowed multiple connections, some only a single person at a time. I ran my own BBS for a long time, which, if anything, distracted me from the new and upcoming World Wide Web. The spider web analogies were annoying to me, so I was content to stay in my own comfortable BBS world.

One of the multi-lined BBSes I was a long time member of was dabbling in getting connected to the Internet. One of the users who was angling to be some kind of volunteer system operator decided to create a site for the BBS, using this new fangled HTML. I took a look at it his site, and decided it was crap, and being a cocky highschool junior, said so. He was terribly cocky himself, more so than I, and said something fateful:

“Let’s see you do better.”

That phrase, and any variation of it with the same inherent meaning, has done more to fuel my drive and motivation than any other thing. I think it’s some kind of perverted arrogance. If someone says that to me, I really do set forth to do everything I can to actually do better than their expectations, and then some.

So when he said “Let’s see you do better” I went and did that. In 1993 I developed a website for the BBS that was standards compliant, looked good in every browser, and most importantly, was unarguably better than anything the challenging cocky bastard had come up with.

And now, ten years later, I think that drive and motivation has worn off some, but I think in part it’s because I haven’t had anyone close really challenging me, really doubting my abilities. Carrie rolls her eyes sometimes, but she has no doubts. I need a worthy adversary, someone who thinks I’m full of crap. Someone who truly believes I cannot do something.

Are you an adversary?