I'm in the process of reading Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell's latest book. Without giving away anything you can't find on Amazon... the book covers a wide variety of topics while exploring why some people succeed and why others do not.
In one of the earlier chapters he quotes Dr. Ericsson's 10,000 hours theory. The premise of the theory is that you need to practice for 10,000 hours before you are a master of anything. Gladwell goes into detail by referencing superstars such as Bill Gates, Mozart, Bill Joy, and even the Beatles.
I'm not going to sit here and argue for or against the theory. Plenty have done so already... just google it... or read Outliers.
For the purpose of this post, lets assume for a second that it is true and that mastery comes after 10,000 hours of practice (or basically 10 years). Using that rule, can anyone master Flash?
Flash has been around for a little over 12 years, so theoretically someone could get their 10 years in. However, the environment is changing so rapidly that what we are practicing now is completely different then what we were doing a few years ago. So the question becomes, do our number of hours restart as technology makes leaps and bounds?
Think about when you had to switch to AS3. Sure what you learned in AS2 helped make the transition easier, but did you jump in and feel like you picked up right where you left off or did you feel like you had to relearn a lot of things? Similarly, with Flash 10 and 3rd party engines such as Papervision3d and Away3d, do you truly feel like you are mastering the subject or are you just trying to keep up with the latest build?
Sure, people can become master programmers (such as Bill Joy) or even master digital artists (I would throw Bert Monroy out there), but can anyone actually master Flash... or in more general terms: online interactive media?
We have some extremely talented people doing some extraordinary and mind blowing work. All you have to do is follow the blogs, FWA, and conference finalists to see what is the latest and greatest. However, are any of these sites going to be considered master pieces in 50 years? 100 years? Are there any developers that will stick out as masters in the field?
To put it in perspective... have we seen our Sistine Chapel? our Mona Lisa? Do we have our DaVinci or our Mozart?
What do you think?