The holidays reminded me yet again how difficult it is to come up with a good answer when my non-technical family and friends ask what I do for living. My brother builds houses. My sister-in-law does hair. And I? Well, my exchanges go something like this:
Cousin Stuart: What is it, exactly, that you do again? Me: I’m an editor for a website. Cousin Stuart (brightening): Really? Which one? Me: Um, the Memory Designline Cousin Stuart: Is that something for Alzheimer’s? Me: Not exactly. It’s more like memory for your computer and phone and stuff. Cousin Stuart: Sounds boring. Me (brightening): Not at all. There’s all sorts of cool new stuff right now.
There’s nonvolatile RAM—because you know the charge bleeds off normal RAM when you cut the power, so they’ve got these new technologies like memory cells that use little tiny heaters to change the state of glass and switch the bits, and memory that uses electron tunneling, and ferroelectric RAM and resistive RAM, and…
That’s usually the point at which Cousin Stuart starts edging away and muttering about needing to get another drink…and suggests I need one as well.
My quandary—and I suspect many of you share it—is that I have this great job where I learn about cool and fun and exciting technology every day, but outside of work and buddies from school, no one gets it. As much as I love what I do, I have no way to get the excitement across to anybody who’s not technical.
Until now. Now, I know what to do next time cousin Stuart asks his yearly question. I’m going to pull up this nifty video on how SSDs are made and show him just how interesting it can be:
Crucial put together this short bit, complete with some rockin’ music that sounds like it belongs at the end of some hip indie flick where Justin Timberlake makes the killer pitch at the VC meeting, saves the new start up, and rushes to the airport to catch the girl before she flies away. It’s shiny and jazzy and exciting—I think it’ll do the job.
Or I may show him this video of Canadian engineers explaining flash memory with the aid of brussels sprouts:
Or this one on what happens to RAM when the power is cut:
How about you? How do you tell your family and non-technology friends about your work?