June 14, 2010:

So, someone posted There Are No Famous Programmers and it wandered into my datastreams somehow. And proceeded to sort of baffle me.

I mean, I think I get the point he's aiming at. It sucks to pour your heart and soul into working on projects only to find that nobody actually cares about what you did. It can be soul-crushing, depending on just how important your projects are and how much they rely on a userbase to give them life.

But he's looking for appreciation in the wrong place and the wrong way. This guy makes stuff that, *if he does it right*, the airheads who actually care what *parties* some startup's founder went to won't be capable of understanding anything more about than 'it works'.

If he's lucky. If he's not, they'll change the spec under him or be unimpressed because it doesn't integrate with Facebook.

Let's try an experiment. Think of a project you use all day. Maybe it's Rails or Python or something. Now, name 4 people on the core team without looking them up. I can't do that for anything I use. Alright, let's say you can do that. You know a myriad of things about the people who make your tools, but can you honestly say you know as much about them as you do about the tools they made you? Be honest with yourself and really look at how much you know about the people behind your gear as you do about the gear itself.

I admit, that's a bit of a headscratcher. Four people? Off the top of my head, the only project that I use that I can think of four core devs for is the Linux kernel - Linus Torvalds, Theodore T'so, Andrea Arcangeli, and Alan Cox - and you know what, I don't know that much about them. Genders. I think Linus is married. IIRC T'so works on filesystems and I may have misspelled his name. Alax Cox does security fixes. Yeah, I know a lot more about the kernel than I do about the people behind it. And other projects - I may know snippets of peoples' personal lives, politics, theology, mannerisms, but actual in-depth knowledge of the people? No.

But... let's try his experiment on a different subject. Think of your favourite authors. Look at how much you know about the stories they wrote, and how much you know about the people who wrote the stories. You'll likely find that you know a lot more about the story than the author. Is this shallow? Or eminently logical and quite possibly right?

Would I rather be famous for the fact that I wrote an awesome game or the fact that I wore an awesome hat?

The famous programmers aren't really famous for programming anymore, but instead because they created some business or non-profit. Their code can't stand on its own as awesome, it has to be paired with some non-code fame formation and then people can grok their concept.

John Carmack. Do we know him first as 'someone from iD, the first company to make a million dollars from shareware', as 'that guy from Armadillo Aerospace', or 'that guy who wrote Doom and Quake'? Until Armadillo starts launching manned flights, I'm pretty sure we'll know him for his game engine work first and iD and Armadillo second. Sid Meier. Is he famous for his *company* or his *game engine*? (The fact that many of his games are called Sid Meier's ______ probably helps.).

There Are No Famous Authors


Nemo from on 0x7DA July 0x11:

You make no point, express no opinion, and I cannot argue.

But, thinking about it, having read the original article, I conclude, as you seem to have concluded, that some programmers are famous. Sid Meier. Will Wright. Hell, Tarn Adams. Perhaps it is just my bias as someone who was away at college when software production did a division-of-labour split with software design, but it seems they are not famous for their programming - rather, they are famous for their ideas, or design, or whatever you want to call it. And, hm, their commercial success (or relative commercial success).

The author seems to be disgruntled because his contributions of code are being judge independently of himself, and he feels left in the lurch. In my opinion, art doesn't need its artist, why should code be any different?

Message ID: 'comment-0x7DA_July_0x11-0x1'; spamfilter sequence: {<}-{If this is spam, anyone may crack the websites herein linked.}

SlipNSlide on 0x7DA July 0x1E:
Sid Meierrhurhurr... Has a company? Also, BLOORG, Also, Thanks for the Princess Maker translation. =D Woot. Also, You should make a life simulator game. Infact, you should make a game. o__o

Message ID: 'comment-0x7DA_July_0x1E-0x0'; spamfilter sequence: {%turing_match%}-{%turing_response%}

Deekoo on 0x7DA August 0x7:
A game? Only one? But... make ALL games at once!

Message ID: 'comment-0x7DA_August_0x7-0x0'; spamfilter sequence: {%turing_match%}-{%turing_response%}

Nameless User on 0x7DA August 0x1E:
Connie Willis is still a housewife in New Jersey with a bigger office. Lafferty is dead, George R.R. Martin is buying Parris beautiful things and putting his feet up a bit but had better get back to Work Pretty Soon. What's his name who still owns Syntrillium will still give you any version of Cool Edit, with a handsome Note, save the one(s) he sold to adobe. Sau Tam and Karen Gauthier may still be there, but you are the least likely of creatures to know if this were true, let alone if it is now. Chromatron and chain reaction are the best indie games except chain reaction has a big flaw, see if you can spot it. I liked your Turing-test-cum-dating game but cannot remember where it was.

I'm right.

Message ID: 'comment-0x7DA_August_0x1E-0x0'; spamfilter sequence: {%turing_match%}-{%turing_response%}


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