Monday, October 4, 2010
Real Programmers Don't Do Conferences
You know these types, these Bamboccioni, if you know anything about programming. You may have been one. You may even be one. But we all can appreciate who they are. At the end of the day, they're the ones that actually make our computers do something useful.
I can tell you one place you won't see these people. At an IT convention. Sure, they may drift around Black Hat once every leap year, or they may tag along as a sacrificial lamb for some marketing department drone who's too busy practicing his O-Face to learn how to demo Great Incredible Enterprise Collaboration Tool 2.0. But they don't make up much of a convention and they sure as hell don't have the social skills to stand up in front of a group of people without puking and later going Columbine from the aftershock. They fear crowds, know others primarily by their IRC handles, and generally despise other members of the human race.
Now I know what you're going to say. What about Linus? Gosling? RMS? insert your favorite tech god here. I don't dispute that they may have once been Real Programmers, perhaps they were. But they aren't now. Now, they are prophets. Too busy teaching and preaching to listen to the winds in the wilderness. Once cannot be both a contemplative monk and a rock-jock conference deity pulling down $3m a year, plus endorsements. The Church has its Regular and its Secular, and spouting off at IT conferences is most definitely in the Secular camp. Sorry brother, but you've traded your desert-worn camel skins for the finest silks of the Vatican.
Next you'll retort, wait a minute pal, I'm not some conference VIP, I'm a Real Programmer and I go to conferences all the time to network, to meet other coders, to ride the bleeding edge. Yes, you may program, I don't deny that. But you're not a Real Programmer. You're networking? Real Programmers do that online, faster, better, and cheaper than you could ever do bringing people to one physical location. You want to meet other coders? Real Programmers don't meet people, they meet programs, they meet source code, they meet chat windows that may or may not be friends or federal agents. You want to ride the bleeding edge? In the time it's taken you to sign up for a nametag, you've already been passed up by the blokes coding at that very instant.
So who's going to conferences, if not Real Programmers? I'll tell you who. Salesmen. People with something to sell. Maybe they're selling their brand, like a marketing agent. Maybe they're selling their product, and trying to get you to sign on the bottom line. Maybe they're selling their framework, their methodology, their startup. Maybe they're selling consulting time. Maybe they're selling their waking hours, trying to find a better job. Maybe they just want an employer-sponsored trip to Vegas. I don't know. But what I do know is, they're not programming, at least not spending the bulk of their time programming. That's being done by the guy without the expense budget.
So enjoy your cocktail shrimp, your hotel mints and model-presented game preview. Nothing wrong with that, it takes all kinds to make the world go round. But don't pretend you're a Real Programmer.