Recently I was tasked by my son's pre-k teacher to present a paragraph that describes my occupation... in a way that 4 year olds will understand. This really put things into perspective for me, more than I thought it would. At first I think of what I might describe to my parents: "Software Engineer: I write code for web applications and databases"... No. So what is it that I do?

I was then reminded of an interview question I once had where I was asked: "How would you describe a database to your grandmother?"  These sorts of questions may seem silly to some developers, but I find them to be a great exercise. These questions help us to target and focus on what it is we really do, and how our end users or clients might perceive what someone in the software profession might be thinking. So I thought of the answer provided in that interview where I made the analogy of a jewelry box that helps to organize and sort jewelry for efficient placement and retrieval.

How does a jewelry box translate to pre kindergarten children? Well I tried to avoid an abstract analogy and simplified it by stating that I teach computers to do neat things and give us information when we ask them for it by typing or clicking the mouse.... Our children don't care about CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, objective-C, C++, Java, Ruby, Python, C#, or if we built our app for Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8 or whatever,
they care if they can learn from and enjoy whatever it is we built.

So a fresh perspective of "how can this actually benefit someone" has been bouncing in my head lately. I'm not saying one shouldn't try new cool tech... Still create experiments and things that push development forward, but perhaps a deeper look at what is truly needed should be a priority.