It seems everyone these days wants to be famous. However the vast majority of them don’t want to do the work required to be famous for anything worthwhile. They want to be famous for, well, being famous. They want to be rock stars.
The programming world seems to have been taken over by this attitude, with an increasing number of job adverts looking for a “rock star” developers. But is that really what the web and business in general, needs? I’m not so sure.
Ron Evans at Dead Programmers Society compares rock stars to jazz musicians, and I think the parallels can be easily seen with developers. I like to think I have a bit of insight into this area, being both a developer and having a degree in jazz (yes, really).
There are three basic ways in which programming and being a jazz player are similar:
The great thing about being a jazz player is the more you know the more you know you have to learn. The tough thing about being a jazz player is the more you know the more you know you have to learn. It’s the same with programming – there is no end to learning because programming, like music, is not a static thing. It changes, evolves, continually and you have to keep up if you want to succeed.
The great thing about being a jazz player is there are few rules. The tough thing about being a jazz player is there are few rules. Just like programming, the rules you follow are reasonably simple at heart. In jazz if you break the rules it doesn’t sound right; in programming if you break the rules then the application doesn’t compile. But even within those rules there is huge freedom of expression, a thousand ways to say/do the same thing.
The great thing about being a jazz player is the fact you can play “off” other people. The tough thing about being a jazz player is the fact you can play “off” other people. I work in a team of 6 developers, we all have our own styles and experience. We all share the strengths we have, and we create good stuff. Just like a band who gig together regularly, there’s an appreciation there of each other – even if we sometimes disagree about some things.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the many fantastically talented and graciously generous people around the web who have shared code, understanding and insight with the world. So too I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those people who through their music have shared much that is both tangible and ethereal with the world.
This entry is in memory of the late, great Oscar Peterson. Rest in peace, Oscar.