Technologists, We Gotta Talk

"It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It"

Technologists, We Gotta Talk

The pattern is the same: I log on, I go to lobsters or HN, I click on a link, I read a wonderfully-written essay by a super-smart person who doesn't know what they're talking about.

Nothing unusual here, sadly. There's no trickery involved. These folks are usually much smarter than me and know a lot more about coding and technology than I ever will. I have no illusions of somehow being uber-lord, master of space and time. If anything, I'm just sharing the results of my affliction with you.

I'm self-taught. This means a lot of things, including that I might be neurodivergent. I find topics I like, such as C programming, then I dive in and hang on until I've mastered them. This attribute/flaw has served me very well in the programming industry. I know a bunch of programming languages and processes and have worked all over the place. Diversions happen. But I don't give up. That's me.

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About ten years ago, a customer asked me "What is the one thing all of our teams are doing wrong?" (There were about 600 projects underway at the time). Took me a bit to come up with something, but finally I got it: backlogs. Every team I saw there, even the ones doing super-well, were doing an awful job of listing what they wanted to do then going to do it. It resulted in tons of lost time and morale suffered greatly.

I wrote a book on that initial problem, but immediately faced a much worse (!) quandary: why do some teams do well and others suck? Even at the place with the horrible backlogs, there were some teams that rocked. Why is that?

At the end of that huge and seemingly endless rabbit hole, there were four philosophies that come together to make good tech. Hell, they come together to make good science.

Honestly, At this point I became quite upset. I realized that this was a question that nobody really wanted an answer to. If you've done a lot of coding, you know the feeling when you come in and automate something hundreds of people were working on before. It is not a happy feeling. And that's assuming that anybody would listen to me.

The last three or four years I've spent in trying to regurgitate, recycle, or somehow dumb-down what I found for better mass consumption. My best guess, frankly, is that I'm going to have to convert the entire concept into a comic book and then beat people up with it in order to get their attention. Even then, success is doubtful.[1]

But I don't give up. That's me.

Here's a quick video where I talk about the four philosophies and provide resources for further research to those who are interested.

  1. "It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It" - Upton Sinclair