Does the status of a developer matter to you?

Good morning^^

I feel “angry” about the IT community drifting away from each other. There are the hard-core professionals working on enterprise-scale projects, then there are the employed software engineers working at companies like Google or IBM, and last but not least there is an in-homogenous group consisting of Open Source developers, book authors, bloggers, and technology evangelists. In the past, the gap between those groups was not that important, as the market was small and the technology less complex. We used to be a small group, curious about everything and everyone. IT was not a life-style product and the name Google was worth nothing. I agree, if that sounds romantic and exaggerated.

Personally, I think competence and life-long learning is everything, but of course in reality the association with company names and reputation as speaker or author of well-known books/software are more important to make an individual opinion relevant for others. Some people won’t even listen at all, if they consider you as not relevant or in other words: not helpful for their own career building. You always want to hang out with the cool guys and everyone should see it. I found out, after I discussed a validation issue with Martin Fowler. Some people looked at me like I must be the president of the United States because I got a reply from him. But hey, we are all just humans. Yes, I was also chatting with Niklaus Wirth, my mom, our project manager and the kids on the street – and the strange guys developing JavaScriptMVC ;)

So far, so good. Now the problem is, that well-known opinion leaders can have stupid ideas and unknown developers that are always sitting behind the screen and fear the sunlight can have really good ideas. Also ideas presented in books sometimes do not work in practice, as we had to find out too often. A recent example is a posting from John Resig about why we don’t need jQuery Enterprise – I feel like he lost touch with reality and think some people who are not recognized as world-class JS developers do have a better understanding of what is required for large Rich Internet Applications. And why is that? Because he wants to be relevant:

"If I had to guess and put percentages on the jQuery user base I would
say that they break down something like this:
 - 95% of jQuery user's needs are perfectly met by current jQuery
code/plugins (19 out of 20 users)
 - 4% of jQuery user's create complex interactions - would possibly
benefit from a widget architecture
 - 1% of jQuery users have a need for both complex widgets and a means
of tying them to an existing data model"

Yeah, my current project belongs to the 1% of the market. We are not relevant, work in the underground and feel pretty uncool. Many of the “surprisingly” simple solutions, that shine brighter than daylight, do not work for us. To have a closer look takes a lot of courage and time – and nobody from the outside will take notice. There usually is no time to travel around the world and tell everyone. But if you ask, we are happy to explain. That is what the project business is like. At least you can make some money.

If you ask some employee of a larger corporation about what’s going on inside, something you will rarely find out by searching the Web, you are rewarded with interesting insights. For example, you will learn that IBM employs some no-so-bright developers and that software quality often sucks. True, IBM also has developers and marketing managers that tell you something completely different. That’s why the company name does not matter in the end, but the person as such.

Either way, and that is the good thing about our profession, the computer is always right. It does not care how cool the user is. It does not even care, if it was built by Apple or some No-Name company. It does not care how much money you have. Hard, boring binary facts do count. That’s why developers from companies large and small, well-known and unknown should always keep up communication and don’t make their attention dependent on what they think about the status of others. Good reasons and experience lead to practically relevant opinions. Of course it’s not enough to just have some random opinion, for nobody.

My computers are constantly exchanging information with networks on all over the planet and they did not ask the question about the “why” so far. There is a good reason to fight for net neutrality. My computers are not cool, but at least they do work pretty well.

The bottom line is: Do speak with strangers. Don’t feel important. Never stop learning. Forget about names and brands. From my point of view, we are one community and we need each other to grow professionally and personally.

Reading this post a couple of hours later, another conclusion comes into my mind: Maybe we could encourage more women to work as developers, if some people can forget about their ego.