I’m not a nerd, I am a creative maniac!

I don’t mind be known as a tech geek. I suppose it’s a fair description. But I want to change people’s misconceptions of what that actually means. At its core, my nerdiness is driven by creativity, collaboration and fun.

I’ve been obsessed with building things since I was a kid. When I was 11, I knitted myself a hat. By 13, I was into Tolkien and all things Middle Earth, so it seemed logical to build my own chainmail…

“I guess I just like a challenge — the crazier the better!”

Programming was a natural progression for me. It is the most creative tool I’ve ever been able to wield. For me, programming is where science meets art. Everything I touch, I hope I can make it more beautiful. You can build so many amazing things. It is about design, but it is also about making a practical difference in people’s lives.

At university, I built myself a “smart-bed” with load sensors that lit up a LED strip underneath the bed so whenever I got up in the night I could see the room. I have diabetes and have to get up quite frequently and eat when my glucose level drops.

Then my college roomate built a 3D-printer from a kit. It was great fun helping him, and it inspired me to build my own. I didn’t want to use a kit, because that would be too easy, so I used his printer to create the components for mine using things I found lying around. It took me almost a whole year, and my room was like a workshop with a bed in it. But I did it. Of course, it wasn’t particularly practical. Soon my room contained not only a workshop and a bed, but also a 3D-printer and a load of plastic stuff I didn’t need!

But it got me thinking…

If I could add a laser module to the printer I would be able to build an algorithm to transform common image formats such as jpg, gif and png into laser engravable GCODE which could then be used to make custom engravings on leather, paper, cork, wood… Just about anything.

A screenshot from the web shop, it will hopefully be in production and available online around christmas!

A screenshot from the web shop, it will hopefully be in production and available online around christmas!

The result has been a small web shop that I built with react and Node, where people can buy small, custom-engraved drinking coasters, among other things. I have tried to automate the entire process through order confirmation, production and billing, so I can simply sit back and wait for the machine to text me a message: “Hey Jonas, somebody just ordered some coasters! ”

But while the business side to this project is important, it is not what drives me. I’m more interested in learning and sharing. For me, learning is better when it is collective. It is more efficient that way. Most of what I create I’ll put up on GitHub, the OpenSource community — a collaborative forum where you open up your code and let anybody read it. That way, other people can try out new things for free.

I loved university, but when I left, I faced a conundrum…

I was lucky enough to do my degree at the Royal Institute of Technology, and mine was a prestigious course that combined teaching with technology. I’m a qualified engineer but I am also certified to teach maths and technology to high school kids, and the thought of that was very appealing. Both my parents are teachers and it feels part of my DNA.

But I also know teaching will always be there, and I still have much to learn myself!

There is a theory put forward by Lev Vygotskij called the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which basically describes the volume of things you can learn by interacting socially with other people. It became an important tool for me in figuring out what to do next. The ZPD of IT consultancy is off the charts so it seemed like the obvious career path. I can’t think of a better role than a consultant: Learning new things, working with code and meeting new people all at the same time.

But I didn’t want just any tech consultancy job…

It might have been easier to find work at a large established company where your path is chosen for you, but I want to custom-build my own path, just like I custom-build everything when I get the chance.

I don’t want the safety, I want the challenge. I’m at the start of my career. Half of my remaining life on this planet will be spent working so I figure I might as well make it enjoyable.

In Mpya Digital, I have found my kindred spirit. A small, dynamic firm where everybody contributes ideas. To them I am not a “nerd” or a “geek”. To them I am a creative maniac. I’m the guy who will fill the new office with tech projects: everything from mobile controlled LEDs to plant sensors that tweet when they want water! I know these features are hardly essential for a modern business, but they are a talking point to say the least…

Luckily my new colleagues feel the same way too!

Thanks for reading! You can find all of my articles via my profile Jonas Johansson