Engineering Philosophy

The 24Hour Programmer Lifestyle

I was on Imgur today and saw the “we’re hiring!” link in all red. Had to
click it. Look at the position closest to my skill set here. Pretty standard, including this
little blurb at the bottom:

if you’re passionate about coding or design, then we bet you have lots of
things that you’ve done in your spare time. Along with your resume, we’d like
you to send us some samples. They can be personal projects you’ve whipped up
during a lunch break, or a full-fledged application that you’ve created from

I am going to coin a phrase here and call this the ’24 hour programmer’. The
kind of gal or guy for whom coding is akin to speaking. They read technical
journals for breakfast, listen to programming podcasts during their commute,
work a full day banging out code, and then go home and work on their open
source projects. I have had the pleasure of knowing some of these people and
they are very good at what they do. This is not how I operate. I give my
employer 8 hours (or so in either direction) and then I go home and do
something else. I may on occasion drop some code outside of the office, but I
have other non-technical interests. It may surprise my employer, but I do not
think of code all my waking hours. I do other things, like build costumes, or play
video games, or try and meet other people. It is a
curious perversion of the tech sector that we expect engineers to always being
engineering. Do we expect carpenters to always be building stuff? Is an artist
somehow less dedicated if they occasion to not draw or paint one day? Maybe the
peculiarities of the startup culture have somehow equated people who live code
all the time as the ideal programmer. Everyone else who does not do the same
must just not be into it. They probably just do it for the money. There is
another word for this: elitism.

Employers, do not pigeonhole yourself looking for these people. Yes they
probably make good employees and yes they might even be better, but you ignore
all the other equally good employees who do not act like this. In any field you
are going to have people who are solely focused and you will have others who
who have many focuses. Staff your company with the best employees, not just the
ones who live a certain lifestyle.

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