Blogging since 2008 until 2010

Developers - the heroes of the internets

Anyone who's ever been to a high-school style career guidance meeting will know that there are a lot of careers to choose from. You could be anything, they tell you: a doctor, a plumber, an accountant or even an astronaut; or you could be a developer. There is something that separates developers from people in most (but not all) other professions. Developers aren't people who picked their career for the money and the glamour. They're people who didn't pick their career at all; they're just wired that way. There are exceptions of course, but they are just that: exceptions.

There are not many accountants who sit at home and do accounting for fun, or plumbers who go home on a night looking forward to lagging their own pipes. There are not many astronauts who go into space in their own time either; there are a few practical reasons for that of course, but that's not the point. Developers are people who finish a long day of programming and debugging and head home looking forward to doing more of the same. It's not a just a career for them; it's just what they do.

The developer mentality is the reason the open source and free software movements exist; the thing that baffles the business men so much - "Why would you spend time on something you're not getting paid for?". It's the thing that drives a surprising amount of innovation in the world: if developers didn't do development in their spare time we probably wouldn't have Linux, Apache, MySQL or PHP. And given that these four technologies alone power a large proportion of the web: we probably wouldn't have much of what makes the web so awesome. In fact, we would probably live in a world where the web is dictated by corporate giants like Microshaft.

It is my personal opinion that anyone looking to employ a developer (or developers) should be aware of this. If you find yourself interviewing a candidate who doesn't do development work in their own time (without good reason) don't hire them unless they are your last resort. In this situation, it's likely that you have found someone who picked their job because it's what they studied at college or university, or because they couldn't think of anything else to do with their lives and needed the money.

Hats off to the real developers; the people who come home from their day job and then stay up late writing code - only to give it away for free to people who need it; you are the heroes of the internets.

First posted: Wed, 18 Nov 2009 21:11:36 +0000