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It’s all about respect

Dear Reader,

Ok, it’s been a while since I wrote last and I apologize for my continued absence. Thanks to several friends, some of whom, I’ve known only a month or so, unemployment has been more like a series of short freelance gigs. Guys, I’m truly appreciative.

However, that’s not the subject of tonight’s post. Tonight I want to give props to all my Code Monkey friends out there. Homies, you know who you are.

This was posted on /. yesterday and while it’s one of the greatest songs since ELO broke up, it also made me think. (BTW, none of this should reflect on my current employers. But it could apply to some of my recent employers, you know who you are)

You have to listen to the words of Code Monkey several times before you get the full gist of it. Those of you who are coders have to get past the obvious truths in the first verse and work your way into the song to get the full benefit. (If you don’t understand the first verse then you won’t understand this post because it’s you I’m talking about.)

This song made me remember a truth I had learned a while back and just filed away. (All you Johnny Phoenix fans…raise your toasted Barbie dolls in the air and scream A TRUTH!) There’s an entire group of people out there that make their living off of the work of others. Most of us call them managers, some of us call the PHB’s. (Pointy Headed Bosses, I had to explain it once when I used it in another article, so I’m explaining it here now for you.) Occasionally, we call them worse. Whatever the moniker we place upon them there is one undeniable truth about all middle management, they occupy that position because they can’t or won’t produce. Managers, I don’t care what you say in you defense, I’ve been in both seats. Management rarely produces anything, they manage the production of others.

Here’s a secret that a lot of managers ignore. Most developers are perfectly capable of managing their own production. Heck, I’ve built teams that are perfectly capable of divvying up the management responsibilities amongst themselves and working without a manager. On the other hand, a surprising large number of software development managers cannot code. I had this argument once with the COO of a company I worked for. He proudly proclaimed that “the Sales and the Development departments were the 2 most important departments in the company”. I stared at him blankly. Then I said

“I can pull any one of my developers in here, give them a client list and they can do sales. How many of your salesmen can code?”

(yes, it was a career limiting move, I wasn’t as smart as Code Monkey)

In a software development company, the development department is not one of the most important departments, it is the most important department. It’s not terribly difficult to build a great software development team. Good talented people are out there. The trick is to find them, hire then, then treat them like kings. Once they understand that you respect them and their talents, they will respect you. (Hint: Immediately fire anyone who demands to be treated like a king. Those people will kill a team faster than anything upper management can do.)

So if you are a manager and you’ve made it this far, do me a favor. Go into work tomorrow and personally thank each developer for showing up, as they show up. (Get there before them!) Then, at the end of the day, thank them again when they leave tomorrow night at a reasonable hour. (Yes, that means you are there when they leave!) Let each of them know that you know that they have a choice. They can choose not to work for you. Everybody has a choice. Thank them for choosing to come in; and do it every day. Let them know you respect them, because that’s important to Code Monkeys.

I’ll leave you with this…that again, I’m ashamed to say, I ripped off of /.

“Putt’s Law: Technology is dominated by two types of people: Those who understand what they do not manage. Those who manage what they do not understand.”

Putt was a Code Monkey.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

Roles in the Blogosphere – Part 2

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Part 2 of “Roles in the Blogosphere”. If you missed part 1 then I suggest you read it first. Not that it will help you understand part 2 any better but it counts as a page view in my stats. (Sue me, I’m a stats whore)

In part 1 we talked about the first type of blogger, the Author. It helps (at least it helps me) to thing of this as a Totem Pole. Authors are at the very top of the pole and hold a revered place. Not because of what they write (because honestly some of it is just junk) but because they do write. (and amongst the junk there are a few great blogs.)

Directly under Authors are the Librarians. Librarians are those bloggers who do not write a lot of original new content but collect others writings on a specific topic. Again, playing to my strengths here and working with what I know, two good Librarian sites out there for technology are www.mashable.com and www.ajaxian.com.

There are several good blogs I read on a daily basis that don’t create much new content but they do gather a lot of good content together in one place. I thought about calling this pattern newspapers but since I hate my local newspaper I felt it degrading to the Librarians. (Besides, when I think of Librarians I think of Marion The Librarian in The Music Man. C’mon, who can hate Shirley Jones?)

Librarians serve an important purpose for blog readers because they strap on the hip-waders and slough through the muck that is the blogosphere looking for those rare gems of insight amongst all the floaters. They harvest the gems that they find, catalog them, and present them for us. This is the first attribute of a Librarian, a librarian is a blog scavenger. A better description might be that a Librarian knows where to look for stories both good and bad.

Like Authors, Librarians always have a theme. Unlike an Author, a pure Librarian will never stray from their theme. Given the diverse writing styles and approaches of the Authors who write the content they collect, the theme is what gives the Librarian’s blog cohesion. This is the second attribute of a Librarian; a Librarian always has a theme.

In addition to collecting and cataloging the news for us, they add value to the news. Sometimes it’s in the form of an opinion. Sometimes it is in the form of an object review; Pete Cashmore does a great job of this. Sometimes the value added is that stories from disparate sources there brought together so that the reader can make a connection. Adding value to news is what separates Librarians from classes we will see farther down the Totem Pole. This is the third attribute, Librarians add value to the news they collect.

Finally a Librarian is impartial. As I touched on in the previous point, a Librarian will give you an objective look at whatever they are cataloguing. Sometimes you read a Librarian’s blog so you don’t have to check every new toy or widget out. They have done it and you trust their opinion. Other times you will read it because they don’t opine but list the values and problems with any given item. (Toy, widget, services, etc.) This is the fourth attribute of a Librarian; a Librarian is impartial.

That is all for now. Join us next time for Part 3.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)

=C=

Roles in the Blogosphere – Part 1

Dear Reader,

Lately, in between minor software project I’ve been reading a lot of blogs a lot lately. I call it research, my wife (the lovely and talented Kathy) calls it my latest time-sink. Either way, it’s a fun diversion when JavaScript pisses me off.

During my time spent with my fellow ‘citizen journalists’ patterns began to emerge before my very eyes. Either these are generalizations of the blogers that make up the blogosphere or the aliens really are in control at Comcast and are manipulating the very fabric of space-time…and Pete Cashmore’s blog. We’ll assume for the moment that it’s patterns.

Those of you who know me know that I am not a Psychologist. (Those of you who don’t know me will have to take my word for it.) I have however, watched enough re-runs of Frazier to feel qualified to don a white coat and pontificate on this subject of “Emerging Patterns in the Blogosphere”. (If this were a movie, it would be at this point that the titles would grow real big over the image of a spinning globe. If you can actually see that in your head then you need more help than this article will be able to give.)

A bit of a diversion before I dive whole-hog into describing the roles themselves. These are not black and white divisions. As I look at the 5 categories, most of the great bloggers I know fit easily into 2 of them. The worst bloggers that I am aware of are those who fit into one and only one category. I’m not really sure why that is.

This is not an exhaustive list of the roles bloggers play. These are just the ones that are starting to emerge as I read. Just like software generally falls into design patterns, so bloggers generally fall into categories. Here are the ones I see.

Role #1: The Author:

Ok, first, before you go DUH, not all bloggers are authors; but some are. Authors are the people that make the blogosphere go ’round. An author is a blogger that creates original content. Like mine, it may not always be good content, but it is usually original content. Two good examples of Authors (other than my own blog) are joelonsoftware.com and freelancefred.com.

Note: I am in no way making a favorable comparison of my blog to either of these giants in their respective industry. You on the other hand, are free to do so. If you do, please go over to their blogs and post it!

I define original content as content written by the Author that is of interest to more then just his or her immediate friends and family. There is a place for ‘friends and family’ blogs and I’m not belittling them but I am mainly discussing semi-pro and professional bloggers. This is the first attribute of the blog of an Author; they produce original content.

Authors are by nature people who have a strong or educated (sometimes even both) opinion about a subject. They are the people you know who can talk for hours on end about a specific subject. They have a passion for their subject and that drives them to continually improve and refine their knowledge base. The difference between an Author and an expert is that an Author shares his knowledge and his passion for his subject with others else through his blog. This is the second attribute of the blog of an Author; an Author wants to share what he knows with anyone who will listen.

Finally, Authors convert their knowledge and passion into a central theme for their blog. They may deviate from time to time, wandering off course and sometimes all over the map; but you know they will always come back to their theme. Bloggers that wander all over the place talking about everything from the score to what happened at school yesterday are not Authors. Sometimes they are interesting but they fall into a category that is for a later post. This is the third attribute of the blog of an Author; the underlying theme is that there is a theme.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)

=C=