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Developer. Gamer. Yo-Yo Thrower.

Coders aren’t commodities

As I was reading Slashdot this morning I came across a very interesting post titled “I Just Need a Programmer“, it linked to a blog by a CS Professor at University of Northern Iowa who recounts his experience with “idea people”:

“Many ‘idea people’ tend to think most or all of the value inheres to having the idea. Programmers are a commodity, pulled off the shelf to clean up the details.”

This mirrors so many of my experiences working in the CPG world it’s uncanny. An idea person (or company) comes up with an idea that “will change the world”, so they go ahead and do mock-ups and creative proofs all before even consulting a programmer. The result of this was usually a frustrated coder, and a disheartened idea person. Usually through some kind of break down with how the idea person thinks something should work and the actual coder implementing it. Working together from the get-go alleviates much of these kinds of problems, but often both the idea person and coder will feel like they’ve had to compromise on their idea or implementation.

There’s a reason why the Facebooks and Googles of the world were founded by people who at least know how code works — they may not have been the ones to put ideas to IDEs, but they understand what’s involved with coding and how to effectively communicate their world-changing idea to someone who can implement it fully.

Got an idea that you think is going to change the world? “Just need a coder”? Maybe now’s the perfect time to pick up a few programming tutorials to try and see if you can experience the awesome that is bringing your own idea to life … and even if you fail you’ll at least have an understanding of what’s involved with implementation and that will help stop you from looking at other coders as just cogs in a machine.

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