I was having a discussion the other day with a couple of very smart humans. The discussion trended towards the aspect of performance which naturally led me to start joking about meetings called “Nurturing Others In The Work Environment” and “I’m Ok – Your OK”. A very bright software engineer, on my current team, commented the software speaks for itself, which got me around to the current installment. The software does speak for itself. In fact, elite software truly speaks for itself. Further software development is the ultimate survival of the fittest from an evolutionary standpoint. For those not familiar with this subject matter I cannot at this juncture give you cliff notes. Thus we are not nurturing others in the blogosphere. Mr Spencer who was a pretty smart feller was attributed to coining the phrase “Survival Of The Fittest”. Stanford is kind enough to give you a great rundown of the subject matter here. Concerning the taboo terminology of Social Darwinism, we can locate the Wikipedia definition as thus. Richard Hofstadter devoted an entire chapter of Social Darwinism in American Thought (1955) to Spencer, arguing that Spencer’s unfortunate vogue in late nineteenth-century America inspired Andrew Carnegie and William Graham Sumner’s visions of unbridled and unrepentant capitalism. For Hofstadter, Spencer was an “ultra-conservative” for whom the poor were so much unfit detritus. If you have not read Hofstadter’s book, you should. Once again it is outside the scope of this blog to review but it is one of the few tomes on the “taboo” subject of Social Darwinism. Also if you have a Facebook account there is a Social Darwinism fan page.
It is my belief that the world of Spencer and Hofstadster via the foundation of Darwin, can be seen in the world of software development. If you have ever worked on software that touched multiple millions of deployments to billions of feeds you know the importance of quality. You also know the importance of performance and accuracy. There is no arguing what happens when someone “breaks the build”. It is NOT OK – YOU ARE NOT OK. In fact you are probably going to get your ass called at 2:30 AM after you pulled a 3 day straight coding sprint to get up and fix it or else. Does this sound like nurturing others in the work environment? Hell No! You are costing people money!. It is a binary process. Its either on or its off and it better be ON! All systems go. I am not saying that we should seek complete perfection, elegance and bug free coding that is impossible if your going to make bank through software creation. He who ships first will win – if the quality is there. Yet if your grinding and someone is lagging they are left severely behind the pack and if you watch the discovery channel you know what happens when there are laggers in nature. It is not pretty.
This is a view from the inside. From the outside most only see the frisbees and imported beer and sitting there with Pantera playing on the headphones whilst sitting in front of a computing device. Easy huh? Think again. Real coders, data scientist, architects <<insert title de jour here>> literally have ice running in their veins when it comes to creating software – usually for money. As I wrote in other installments, I discussed extreme capitalism and mercenaries. Good, Better, Best. It is especially exacerbated when the best of the best make it look easy. The same for sports. Kelly Slater, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan these people make it look so easy. Aplomb comes to mind. I am fond of saying, ” To do a dangerous thing with style is the mark of a professional”.
Historically the software industry was a juxtaposition of the peace love and happiness stuff which is in direct conflict with what actually occurs within the world of software. Another interesting aspect to the software world that one must always be A D A P T I N G. Homeostasis is a death knell to software company. Microsoft missed the internet but sat down and decided to give away Internet Explorer. Apple was tanking and created colorful computers. Companies that continually evolve and change adapt to technology trends and market pressures – win. Antiquated static slow moving companies are akin to the diseased of a pack and will be taken down.
Dont let you or your company be the one that is taken down. Evolve. Change. Grow. Seek Power through great software. Innovation and Great Code speak volumes. Amplify those qualities.