The other day I met another dad at a kid’s birthday party at a zoo. After introductions we began the custom of figuring out what eachother do for work.

Him: “What do you do?”
Me: “I’m a web developer. You?”
Him: “I’m a software developer”
Me: “Cool. What do you program in? C? .NET?”
Him: “Ruby on Rails”
Me: “Ah… Me too”

I found it interesting that even though we both use Rails, we called ourselves different things. Maybe he did some weird enterprise version of Rails like jRuby, Groovy, or Grails that made him a more serious software developer? Nope, just plain ol’ Rails. How can two people who use the same framework to build websites have two different job titles?

It’s all perception I suppose. I perceive the output of what I do as “websites”. I always have.

Perhaps it’s background-related. If you come from a Computer Science background maybe you’re a software developer and it just so happens your software spits out HTML.

If I wrap my website with Electron, am I suddenly an Software Developer? 🤔

Further muddying the waters for me about what I do are terms like “Design”, “UX”, “UI”, “Product”, “Visual”, etc. There’s probably some nuanced description of those titles that someone from San Francisco would try to explain to me, but I dunno, specializations seem like they should make the lines less blurry.

Sometimes our job titles and distinctions feel like the plastic grass1 in a sushi bento; flimsy and only there for decoration.

  1. Bento grass reminds me of that whole era of web design where the header of your website was grass and content area was dirt. Oh. And literal desks with coffee stains on some paper. Nice.