All right: what kind of job do I want? It’s a fair question, and since I’ve often asked students what they would work on if someone offered to pay their salary for a year, I suppose I should try to answer it myself.
First, I want to stay in downtown Toronto: relocating isn’t an option, and since I don’t drive, getting out to the burbs would be two or three hours every day that I wouldn’t be spending with family or on the job. For the same reason, I’m not willing to look at jobs that require a lot of travel, which rules out most of the evangelist positions that people seem to think I’d be good at.
Second, I want to be part of a team that I enjoy spending time with. I’ve had help with Software Carpentry, but I’ve been the only full-timer on it for the last 11 months, which has been kind of lonely. I enjoyed the lunchtime conversations and brainstorming sessions with the crowd at Nevex, and with the CS lecturers at U of T; I have missed that, and would like to have it again.
Number three on my list is working on something that will make the world a better place for my daughter to grow up in. This doesn’t necessarily mean fundraising to fight global climate change, but it rules out SEO for social marketing ad campaigns.
“Cool technology” is the last thing on my list, but only because the others are more important. At 48, I can feel myself slowing down, but Haskell on GPUs in the cloud to drive touch-screen interfaces for personal robots still lights up my inner geek. I’d jump at things like:
- developer tools for extensible programming languages (JetBrains MPS and Intentional Software’s ghostware being two examples)
- a 21st Century presentation tool that would put creating and maintaining web-based content within reach of the average overworked instructor
- anything in the open notebook science space
- next-generation tools for teaching programming (UUhistle is neat)
but I realize these are more “R” than “D”. If NSERC hadn’t turned down every application I sent them while I was a professor, I’d probably be two years into one of these by now, but “what if” doesn’t pay the bills…
Organizational technologies are interesting too: I’m a bit of a software development process geek, and I’d enjoy helping a development team go from 3 to 13 on the Joel Test (13 instead of 12 because I think that “Do you use a debugger?” ought to be on the list).
So: close to home, good team, personally rewarding and technically sweet—it sounds a lot like most other people’s lists. I’ll compromise where I need to (work remotely, for example, and I’m very flexible on salary for the right job), but I know I’m still asking for a lot. I’ll let you know how it turns out.