One of the reasons I often dislike Joel Spolsky’s essays is because he makes me feel inferior for not having a Computer Science degree. He doesn’t inspire me to become a better coder; he makes me feel bad that I’m not a better coder in the first place.
Likewise, Paul Graham’s writings often concentrate on startups and the entrepreneurial spirit. Sometimes they’re good; sometimes they have the exact same effect as Spolsky—to make me feel worthless because I haven’t started my own company, and have no intention of doing so.
Rands, on the other hand, writes about management in an interesting and entertaining way, without making me feeling like a failure because I don’t have a team of people working for me. Likewise, I find Jeff Atwood an inspirational writer: in his dedication to coding as a craft, he understands that one of the keys to being a good developer is a fundamental desire to become a better developer. In his latest article, he takes Paul Graham to task for his “you suck” attitude. Thanks, Jeff—I needed that.
I still use this quote from Lois McMaster Bujold as my personal motto:
“There is this, about being the sparring partner of the best swordsman in Caribastos. I always lost. But if I ever meet the third best swordsman in Caribastos, he’s going to be in very deep trouble.”
I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that this attitude would give Paul Graham fits, but it would make Jeff Atwood smile. There’s the difference.
4 Replies to “Humble coder”
Well, you know what I think of Joel*. I can see I can add Paul Graham to the list of people to read with the salt at hand.
Not everyone is an entrepreneur; some people just want to write software. It’s like saying that everyone who wants to use a computer should compile (or write) their own kernel.
You do what you’re good at, and don’t let some self-important windbag make you feel bad about it.
* If you don’t, dear reader: he thinks that recruiting testers from support and promising them the chance to one day grow up to be Real Developers is a good idea. He thinks that paying testers low wages is a good idea. Then he wonders why he can’t find any good testers, when he’s just dissed the entire specialist skillset and everyone who values it. And he has a very big megaphone to advocate this approach to the world.
The man is poisoning my profession, making my colleagues’ lives measurably more miserable. That is, in my book, bad.
About that motto: You’re settling for being mediocre?
Nope. Are you settling for missing the point?
In case your still looking for Marco & Ineke Linden who now reside in Malawi, you can contact them through e-mail: lindenbrummer(apestaartje)globemw.net
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