Dwins’s Weblog


Types In Stereo

Posted in Development,Ideas by dwins on July 27, 2008

There seems to be a lot of (sometimes conflicting) stereotypes about software developers.  They don’t like to talk to people, instead preferring to hide away someplace with no windows, lit only by computer displays.  They don’t care about their appearance and seldom shower.  When they do talk, computers are the only thing they know anything about.  They have atrocious senses of humor.  They like to create listings of how things are defined, especially themselves and the things they work with.

Personally, I try to shy away from this sort of thinking.  I mean, the logical extreme is to become that guy posting on Slashdot about having Asperger syndrome in a bragging tone, which is, well, not that attractive prospect.  (Note to the bored: I didn’t dig too hard trying to find some example comments, but I’m sure they’re not too hard to find.  http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/06/20/1237229&mode=nested&tid=134 should be a good start.)

However, there is a grain of truth in a lot of these sentiments about the techies. I mean, I’m not too antisocial, and I hated working in a windowless room a couple of years ago when that was what I was doing, but I do kind of hate thinking about my appearance (I shower regularly though!!) Especially though, it’s pretty understandable that software guys talk a lot about software.  It’s not only what we work on, it’s what we work in, since for most software projects software is used to

  • manage source code
  • generate source code
  • communicate about source code
  • compile the source code to the finished product
  • test the source code

and so on.

The thing is, a lot of the stuff that we work with requires a good deal of familiarity with a wide range of technical concepts.  It does take someone who really loves to work on code to be good at working on code; and it does take a special kind of person to love working on code.  Because honestly, tweaking a few lines of a text file, then hitting [Run] and hoping everything works so you can tweak some more lines that will probably break everything is a pretty painful experience.  It’s one of those things that I love to have done and don’t especially love doing.  So I (and I presume most software guys) end up spending a lot of time thinking about techniques, practices, tools, policies, and other ways of improving that experience.  It doesn’t always leave time for other stuff.

Disclaimer: The Open Planning Project is full of developers who write novels and raise children and cook experimental dishes in their spare time.  I’m not saying it can’t happen, just that it’s no big surprise when it doesn’t.

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