[Baypiggies] Chompapps Position - from Issue 31

Seth Friedman sfseth at gmail.com
Tue Oct 27 05:06:27 CET 2009

I map "rockstar" culture to mean some number of contributors that are
somehow perceived to be way more competent than some comparison.  Culturally
this just strikes me as a bad starting point for a company to be thinking of
itself as.  Great coding skills?  Awesome.  If no one can use resulting code
but the one who wrote it, because the person who wrote it over-estimated how
"good" it was, and can't be bothered to explain it?  Clearly bad.    I'm
being caustic about it I recognize, but this is a real problem for
contemporary software companies that advertise their jobs with this kind of
swagger, that is my experience.

I'm excited about a place when, regardless of coding skill level, their
coordination skills are well understood.  I believe it drives effectiveness
of teams that are dependent on the coders, one of which, obviously, is
users.   Everyone writes code with bugs - the standard questions are: (a)
are they understood (ie well enough to judge importance), (b) can they be
resolved quickly, (c) can they be resolved quickly by person other than the
person that wrote the original code.     Code exists in the context of
business and communication between *all* the teams required to make that
happen effectively is paramount.    "rockstar", for me, translates to
"hobbyist" not business oriented software engineer.


On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 8:28 PM, Alex Martelli <aleax at google.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 8:16 PM, RYAN DELUCCHI <bender at onsrc.com> wrote:
> > And while we are on the collective soap-box, I am just put another one
> out
> > there:  Anyone who says they are looking for a "rockstar" programmer can
> > just forget about ever hearing from me.  I realize that this may seem to
> be
> > kinda cute, from the surface.  But, I'm frankly insulted by the notion
> that
> > to in order to be highly skilled software engineer: one has to be "cool"
> > enough (hence, said engineer would be deemed a "rockstar").
> >
> > Just as I lament the fact that the media has reduced title of "hacker" to
> > that of a criminal.  It angers me to see the (what I believe to be a
> rather
> > beautiful) craft of software engineering be reduced to that of some lame
> pop
> > icon.
> >
> > Anybody with me on this one?
> Depends on one's definition of "rock".  I've heard Leonard Cohen's
> music described as such (which I consider totally crazy [1]), but if
> somebody was to say I'm the Leonard Cohen of programming [2] I'd
> hardly find it in me to take offense;-).   I think "rock" has become
> meaningless enough through dilution that "star" and "rock star" carry
> about the same (modest) amount of information!-)
> Alex
> [1] well, the whole of U2 was terribly honored to be allowed to
> perform at Cohen's side (playing and doing backup vocals) in a
> testimonial, as they consider him their greatest source of inspiration
> and a living legend, and I guess most people _would_ accept that Bono
> is "a rock star", so I guess the case is not as cut-and-dried as all
> that;-).
> [2] or that my performance in technical presentations reminds them of
> Grace Slick, to give an example some might consider more
> rock-germane;-)
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