Where do they find the time?!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I love working in the web industry. As a relatively new technology, only really gaining worldwide popularity in the last decade, the web is an industry that’s literally inventing itself on a daily basis. There are some astoundingly smart people out there, developing the web, shaping its future and working tirelessly to improve and innovate. What you know today could be outdated tomorrow… it’s nothing short of thrilling.

It’s not hard to see which people are at the forefront, making a difference and shaping the industry. Flick through any web magazine and the same names pop up again and again. These same people are to be found speaking at conferences, advising on panels, writing thought provoking articles on their own blogs and, in a great many cases, writing books to share their expertise with the world.

My question is this: Where do they find the time?!

The industry is so fast moving that it’s all most of us can do to keep up to date. Reading through blogs and magazines, digesting the daily onslaught of new ideas and techniques, taking the time to understand new technologies as they emerge, not to mention the ever moving goalposts of ‘Best Practice’… it’s a full time job in itself! Surely we’re supposed to be spending this time working on our projects for paying clients?

Perhaps these people, these industry leaders, perhaps they are so smart that they can digest information in a fraction of the time taken by us ‘normal’ human beings. Perhaps they’re really robots… it wouldn’t surprise me. I saw Jeremy Keith’s talk at dConstruct last year and I swear at least half of it was in binary.

Maybe these people don’t need paying clients anymore… perhaps after you’ve had a certain amount of articles published on ‘A List Apart‘, the internet automatically siphons off fractions of pennies from millions of e-commerce transactions into your bank account each month, allowing you to concentrate your time on R&D…. It probably kidnaps your kids too, just to make sure you comply. We’re only months away from Skynet… Mark my words.

What’s more likely, I’d imagine, is that most of these people work alongside other, incredibly intelligent and talented individuals, each with their own specialities and ideas… and they just bounce ideas off each other. As freelancers, we’re not often afforded this opportunity, which is why networking is so important. Conferences and social networking events are a great way to meet some very clever people; and twitter makes it easy to stay in touch…
But that’s not enough for me, I need a constant influx of information; a subconscious affinity with all things technical. I’m going to get a job as a cleaner in the offices of some big web agencies so that I can install bugs in their water coolers and pipe the tapes into my bedroom while I sleep.

Not that I ever sleep… I’m too busy working.


Filed under: General.


  1. Paul Randall

    Apr 22nd, 2009
    10:19 am

    I think the big contracts these companies get allows them to spend a bit of time being up-to-date on the latest thing, researching, testing and implementing new techniques.

    For your average £1,000 site there is little room for 4 hours of research.

    But also, a lot of speakers do have clients, dConstruct, SXSW and other conferences are their clients. They are being paid to speak about the web, and that must make them constantly use/play with the latest technique/technology/framework.

  2. Sam Barnes

    Apr 22nd, 2009
    8:03 pm

    Ha, nice post, and a question I’ve often asked myself!

    I think many of the guys you talk about started out as hard working dogs and stayed that way for many years, gaining experience enough along the way to start posting the odd article here and there. They managed to get a following and started writing more and speaking, while working too – hardcore dedication!

    At some point or the other I think companies have caught on to the fact that having a well known web celeb as an employee has massive benefits to their business in terms of brand building = work = revenue.

    If I ran a company and had a web celeb employee I think id defintely give them the time to get the company name out there as one of the elite while I hire new people to take over the work they used to do full time…


Simian Enterprises is the trading name of Gary Stanton, a freelance web developer working by the sea in Brighton, UK. Gary's been creating websites since 1996 and still loves it. Read more


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