Nanawo Akari On Software

Nanawo Akari has a song called Complete Resignation Declaration (well, in my mother tongue), and it has some lovely life advice. Let me specialize that advice to software.

Alright, well, listen to the full song first, if you please. It’s fun. Else skip to timestamp 2:55 for the part whose English translation I’m quoting.

Manifest 1!

Giving my all to what I want to do

Study the things that really interest you as a hobby. Perhaps it’s a general field of study, perhaps it’s a family of languages you like, perhaps it’s a sort of application that you really like existing, perhaps it’s geeking out about hardware, perhaps it’s the social impact of the tools you make.

Manifest 2!

Being apathetic towards what I hate

Don’t work in a field doing something that really bores you if you can help it. Best not carve yourself, say, a niche as a game developer for 15 years if you decide it’s not gratifying work. See if you can flex into something you do as a hobby instead, like something to do with that class you took on firmware development (or whatever) that you really loved.

Manifest 3!

Being loyal to laziness

You’re an engineer; your job is to make it so you don’t have to do your job anymore. Then you move onto something else. If you make quality tools/products, you won’t have to spend so much effort maintaining them. You also serve as an emissary of laziness itself to your users: they won’t have to spend as much time studying your tool to figure out how it works, their efforts to learn the tool will pay off with added efficiency (and ideally less work!), and they won’t have to write you as many bug reports. Win/win.

There are some serious correlaries to Manifests 1! and 2! If what you’re doing is leisure, it’s not going to feel like work (but seriously, if someone’s making money off of that “work,” it may as well be you), and if you really hate doing something, look for a way to do it that takes less effort. It’s these correlaries that make me say Manifest 3! is the most important one for you to remember in software.

Manifest 4!

Being honest in both body and mind (心も体 も正直に)

This translation may be very slightly loose: 心 is taken to mean “mind” in this context, but it often means “heart” or “one’s flame” in the same idiomatic English ways. All such meanings are relevant here. Be honest about what you actually want, be honest in representing your experience, don’t let work become more of a health issue than you can help (exercise! Go easy on the sugar!), and acknowledge what you really are: not a machine, but an unusually skilled ape.