Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hi-tech alumni

What appeared to be a joke article at first glance (Cravath sounds like the french word for a tie) turned out to be a very insightful post by Alex on the topic of quitting and more generally about the habits of a certain class of software developers. I couldn't agree more! In fact, I have found myself proud to announce to my peers that I have worked at Microsoft and Macadamian; that I'm an alumnus or a graduate of sorts from their respective schools [of thought], that I embody some/most of their best practices and serve as a kind of unofficial ambassador.

I can relate to the "bus factor" concept and can even suggest a tangible metric: fantastic developers (who are thus likely to quit) are usually top contributors to corporate wikis, since they are constantly externalizing their knowledge for future colleagues/replacements. This, ironically, increases their value since they can spend more of their [precious] time solving new problems instead of being constantly disturbed for knowledge and acting as a "walking wiki" (which Alex calls "unskilled people"). It's not hard to see how true synergy is achieved by having all documentation at everybody's fingertips. This is what Bill Gates called a Digital Nervous System.

The next logical step to documenting is automating. So even if you feel your "bus factor" is low because everything is documented and your team spends a lot/most of their time solving new problems (which is, by itself, an excellent start) documented AND automated processes are the true mark of excellent talent.

So, in the spirit of the topic, I will quit my job (and there's nothing wrong with that), but I just haven't decided when. And if I start a company, I will include a link to this article in the corporate wiki.

P.S.: I'm posting this to my blog from Google Docs. I had this idea that it would be great to be able to do so and, lo and behold, there it was, under Share/Publish as web page...

Update: Ok, it posted, but without a title and the HTML was definitely not clean, but it's a start. I probably just need to tweak a few styles.