Monday, April 17, 2006

Scribes, Ants, Artists

In the spectrum of people in the field of Software, there are three major groups. Those for whom it is a job, those for whom it is a religion, and those for whom it is an art.

Those for whom it is a job we'll call Scribes. They generally thrive in the periphery. They may be involved but are never widely impactful. They are continually consuming but very rarely of any influence. The great ones are dependable and performant.  The good ones are mostly useless except as seat-warmers and secretaries.

Those for whom it is a religion we'll call Ants. They can be found littering up the landscape, infiltrating even the best structures. They are hordes of drones, led by a small number of disassociated individuals who make proclamations and generally rouse the masses without ever actually doing any work.  The great ones can seem to fly in relation to their followers, but they have a limited shelf life.  Once their nest is established, the hordes just dig in and tear up the surrounding country-side. The good ones can carry off projects many times their own weight, but inevitably just leave a whole that someone else has to fill.

Those for whom it is an art we'll call Artists (didn't see that coming, did you?). They are the smallest group, but the most influential. They actually create things just to see what they look like, and they appreciate the creations of others.  They borrow heavily from the world around them for inspiration and direction.  Sometimes they infuse religion into their art. They try to get paid for their art, but it's never fully appreciated until after they are gone. Artists can be very eccentric, it is the true price for their gift. Their creations inspire others. But unlike with the Ants and Scribes, the inspiration takes different forms for each of them.

Ants all follow the same path, and like Scribes get their orders from somewhere else. Artists prefer guidelines.

A Scribe can get stuff done, but will often only be successful by leaving a bloody mess of spaghetti and chicken-scratching in their wake.  They pay attention to the latest engineering fashions only so much as it directly impacts their day-to-day.  For them, change isn't particularly good, unless glacial in speed.

Count on the Ants to always read the latest works and writings.  It is the Ant Queens to write the drivel that is gulped down by the masses.  With their focus solely on increasing their hordes, they don't care about the wholes they leave in the landscape, only that their insatiable appetite is appeased.

When I look around and assess my peers, my clients, and my workers, I try to remember what I am striving to become. All too often I see reflections of the ways I've yet to master myself.

Which bucket have you found yourself in lately?

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