Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It does not follow and Wheaton's Law

"I'm not a smart guy".
I say this quite a bit. I don't say it to fish for compliments or as a chance to have my ego boosted. I say it because I realize that, out of the vast corpus of computer science knowledge that exists, the part that I DO know is a blade of grass on a football field.

"I'm not a developer"

I say this a lot too. This is not meant as a slight to developers. It's meant as a compliment. There are REAL developers out there and I'm just pretending (after a fashion). I have never worked a professional gig as a developer. I've had honest discussions with people who want to pay me lots of money to be a developer. The best way I can explain it to them is that it would be unfair to you, as an employer, to hire me for a developer position because you would be unhappy with the results. In general it takes me twice as long to solve a development problem as it takes a real developer.

There are lots of factors to this; education, regular skill use and a general affinity for picking up concepts. I never graduated college and I pretty much suck at math. That's not to say I couldn't learn it but there are some things I know I'll never be as good at as someone else and that's fine by me. I'm not settling for mediocrity I just know my limitations. I'll still take a stab at it.

There are, however, some REALLY smart people out there. I used to follow a bunch of them on Twitter because they would link to or drop ideas that really made me want to go research something. I noticed an interesting trend though about some of them. They had a tendency to be dicks. Not just the occasional "Only an idiot would do X" but outright vitriol. Was it trolling? In some cases, sure, but I honestly got the impression that they actually looked down on people who didn't who use a certain technology or chose any path different than they would have chosen.

At the other extreme, you have the folks who make snide remarks or drop a non sequitur about a given technology presumably in an attempt to make the in-crowd giggle and the rest of us poor saps wonder what the hell we're doing wrong. I mean these are smart people, right? If they know something I don't about a given technology, then by god, I'd love to know what it is. I'd love to learn why they feel that way. In the end, though, all you hear is giggling in the background and wonder what the big joke was.

When the hell did we, the people who were typically on the outside of the in-crowd, turn into the people who gave us the most shit growing up? It's like a fucking geek Stockholm Syndrome thing that's gone off the deep end but instead of just sympathizing with our abuser, we're the abuser and we relish it.

I'm guilty of this behavior. I'm the first in line to criticize MongoDB, for instance. The difference? I'll actually sit down with you and tell you WHY I don't like MongoDB and why I feel it's a bad choice in many situations.

What I'm asking is that, as one of the people on the outside, educate me. As much as I think Ted Dziuba is a big troll, at least he takes the time to write it down and trys to defend his position. Ben Bleything had an awesome tweet today:

I guess what I meant is, I don't have the experience to form that opinion, I'd like to learn from you.

That's my attitude exactly. "Put up or shut up" is a bit harsh but in the broadest terms, that's what needs to happen. If you think X is superior to Z then say why. There are some of us who could benefit from it.

Sidebar on Semantics

Additionally,  let's make sure we're also on the same page in terms of semantics. If we're talking about queues, clarify if you're talking about data structures versus a message queue because there's a big f'ing difference in my mind.

When I hear queue, I don't think data structure. I think of a message queue in the product sense. That's just my background. I think about things like guaranteed delivery and message durability.

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