Saturday, July 25, 2009

I want to be a Programmer Aristocrat

This past Friday night I was reading a story in the Wall Street Journal about the late Brooke Astor and the legal drama of her estate. It mentioned that if her son's wife gains control of her fortune, many charities will stop receiving her regular donations. That when it occurred to me that I want to be an old money programmer.

I don't say this because of my penchant for single malt Scotch Whisky nor any other eccentricity I possess that some might consider snobbish. I say that because I begin to understand why the rich give to charities.

The rich don't give to charities to avoid taxes, compensate for inner demons, or feel altruistic. The rich, such as Astor Brooke, give to charities to achieve control and change in ways that profitable enterprise cannot. Of course I am speaking in absolutes. However, for many people whom giving money away and raising money is how they spend their time, they are doing so to affect change.

This is what I ultimately want to do. I don't think I will ever be Bill Gates rich. However, I think I can have my own small empire. I can gain a small degree of prominence as an open source programmer. I can write a web app that supplements my income. I might not ever be of the stature of Linus Torvalds or Larry Wall, but I could certainly write a popular open source product, or become a major contributor to one.

No comments: