Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Be the Worst

Over at Red Squirrel Reflections Dave is spouting some really good advice. He is discussing the increasingly popular notion that software development is a craft. As such, a software craftsman goes through three stages: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. An apprentice is someone who has been practicing software development for less than 5 years. A Journeyman, like myself, has begun practicing on his own, developing and honing new techniques, and is beginning to educate others. A Master is someone who is well respected in the field and who educates a broad group of Journeymen through publications, speeches, and the like.

One of the more interesting recommendations that Dave suggests is Be The Worst. I think this is a must for apprentices. Unfortunately, I don't believe I ever had the opportunity to be the worst, and was typically helping others. However, I look forward to the time in the future, when even as a journeyman, I can be the worst.

Dave's got some really good ideas; unfortunately, I think much of what he says will be useless. Why? Well, it is not because it isn't good or well written, both the subject matter and his writing are excellent. Instead, I think it is because of the target audience. Dave is targeting the very people who have not yet started their journey; the very people that probably WON'T read his future book or his blog. Furthermore, very few Universities talk about software as a craft, instead focusing on the mathematical, computer science aspect. I hate to break it to those universities, but pure CS jobs are becoming more and more scarce and it is NOT true that a good CS student is a good SD student.

Software development is a craft. However, to propagate that and to highlight its importance it needs to be delivered to hiring managers and senior programmers in the industry. These are the people who will stress its importance to Universities which will acknowledge its importance to students. Until that happens, I fear Dave's useful insights will go unheard.

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