Software engineering has always been a field that values practicality and efficiency. After all, the goal of most software projects is to solve a specific problem or meet a specific need. This focus on the "why" of a project is essential for ensuring that resources are being used effectively and that business goals are being met.
However, this emphasis on the practical can sometimes come at the expense of exploration and creativity. In the early days of computing, software engineers were free to tinker and experiment with new ideas, even if those ideas didn't have immediate practical applications. This spirit of curiosity and exploration helped to lay the foundations of modern computing and gave rise to many of the technologies we take for granted today.
As software engineering has matured and the pressure to deliver results has increased, the focus on the "why" of a project has only intensified. This is understandable, as executives and stakeholders want to know that their investments are paying off. But is this emphasis on solving specific problems the best way to drive innovation and progress in the field?
There is certainly value in having a clear sense of purpose and knowing why a project is being undertaken. But there is also value in trying things out just for the sake of it. Exploration and experimentation can lead to serendipitous discoveries and new ways of thinking about problems. This spirit of curiosity and experimentation is what has driven many of the greatest innovations in software engineering.
So, is software engineering losing its soul? It's hard to say. But it's important to remember that the field was built on a sense of wonder and curiosity, and it's worth preserving that spirit even as we work to solve real-world problems.
In conclusion, it's important to strike a balance between the practicality of solving specific problems and the value of exploration and experimentation. By preserving this balance, we can ensure that software engineering remains a field that is both practical and innovative.
So, when someone asks you "why are you building this?" just answer: "why not?"