I feel for the journalist, because I see in them the same geekery that inhabits my fellow software developers.
They’re different in detail but identical in kind.
They work in packs, but the individual has something to prove. They labor in parallel, joining together just before release. They enjoy the artful skill of their fellow producers, and genuinely want success for the person sitting to their left, but secretly want to demonstrate their own superiority, and find more fulfillment in the achievement of that respect than that of their readership.
They quibble over differences in tools indiscernible to an layman — this typewriter over that one, vim versus emacs. “Isn’t it all just a way to type?” ”NO!” yells everyone, returning to their inscrutable disagreement.
Because we fight with maximum venom with those with whom we have the most in common.
They throw themselves into work, producing inhuman, prodigious amounts of output. They live for work; even when not corporeally present their minds are always half at work, whirring, dwelling, figuring.
They live for that perfect turn of phrase, like that elegant single line of code in which a lesser programmer would take three (and wouldn’t handle the error case properly).
So when I continually hear of the demise of the profession of the journalist, I’m sad. I know, time waits for no one, survival of the fittest, broken business models, you can’t live off useless classifieds, etc etc. I know.
But I want there to be rooms where obsessive hoards clack away on qwertys, impelled by a common genetic defect to find fulfillment in the 27-character title, the 375-word summary, the scoop, the anonymous primary source, the Pulitzer, the respect of the other mutants who know the toil of this particular production.
We developers should revel in what we have. We get paid more than we’ll admit our friends who work in other fields (even while we secretly believe we deserve more). Our jobs are consistently rated the best possible job based on work environment, stress, and salary. We are served by professional organizations online and offline, mostly free. We have no need to unionize because we are not exploited. There are jobs for us whether or not we keep up with the latest technology (COBOL developers in NYC command the same salary as Rubyists). There’s no external force destroying our industry and livelihood — in fact just the opposite, software is eating the world, and we’re the teeth.
Revel while you can. Even in 1990 no journalist thought the titans of their industry would be shrinking, bankrupt, sold for pennies on the dollar, demolished by free classified ads, the rise of laymen bloggers, and a world that (wrongly?) refuses to value the tenants of their profession.
What will be next to fall? When will it be our turn to be made redundant or, at least, unvalued?
Revel while you can.
And be thankful.
And buy a writer a drink.