Friday, August 14, 2009

Communication is sometimes the problem

While waiting for a deployment to run this morning, I decided to quickly peruse the tech industry current events list over at Hacker News. The first article that caught my eye was one by Jeff Atwood where he discussed the current state of web programming within the community and the diverse opinions on the subject that are out there.

There are several directions I could go in to comment on this piece of work. I could talk about the Michael Braude quote Jeff uses at the beginning of his article and attempt to discredit it; I could talk about Mr. Atwood and his tendancy to state his positions a bit strongly (although we all do that from time to time); but what really caught my attention was the comments, both on his website and on HackerNews. Why do we in the tech industry so badly want to paint everyone else in the industry with us as moronic and useless? I hate to oversimplify, but examine these to see if you can find the common thread:

Michael Braude: "The reason most people want to program for the web is that they're not smart enough to do anything else. They don't understand compilers, concurrency, 3D or class inheritance. They haven't got a clue why I'd use an interface or an abstract class. They don't understand: virtual methods, pointers, references, garbage collection, finalizers, pass-by-reference vs. pass-by-value, virtual C++ destructors, or the differences between C# structs and classes."

Summary: Web programmers are stupid. I know better things. I'm smarter than them.

Jeff Atwood: "Let's put aside, for the moment, the absurd argument that web development is not challenging, and that it attracts sub-par software developers. Even if that was true, it's irrelevant. "

Summary: People who think web programmers are stupid, are stupid. I know web programming. I'm smarter than them.

pj: "The web is popular for wannabe's because they get exposure. They think they are hackers, but really they are just factory line workers assembling someone else's code."

Summary: People who use web frameworks are stupid. I would never use a web framework. I'm smarter than them

jeremymcanally: "I wholeheartedly disagree, mostly because there are a lot of people that think he's the next Fred Brooks. He's not. Far from it. He's teaching a new generation of developers these stupid axioms that make no sense. I didn't realize this until I had a few of the more nonsense ones parroted back at me during an interview once."

Summary: People who like Jeff Atwood are stupid. I have no use for Jeff Atwood. I'm smarter than them

Maybe I'm just feeling morose today, but can't we all just get along? Exchanging opinions doesn't have to occur primarily by assaulting your opponent's intelligence. Maybe the byproducts of near-ubiquitous communication mediums like blogging and comments on news articles show that it's not necessarily great to give everyone a voice. Next thing you know, intelligent discussion is tarnished by some otherwise-somewhat-intelligent-software-developer-stricken-by-the-temporary-lunacy-that-comes-with-internet-anonymity screaming "YOUR MOM'S A COMPILER!", and now how will we ever regain the coherent footing of a reasonable discussion?

Anyone want to take odds on someone stumbling upon this post and telling me I'm an idiot for writing it? :)