In a piece I read the other day, the author refers to a neglected audience, what she calls 99% developers, which is everyone who is developing software outside the handful of companies on the bleeding edge.
These companies have blog posts about how they solve challenges in their small domain, like scaling to a billion users.
As a result of their reach, these ideas become industry norms in a few years, sometimes shoehorned into places they shouldn’t be.
This paragraph is why I still have the article open in the browser tab to the left.
If someone is working in an idealized process, with a world-class ops team and whole teams of people who exist to support improved software quality, the audience should be made aware of this! And we should welcome more talks, blog posts, and books that give guidance for “real software environments”: what coding, testing, and shipping looks like with short-staffed teams, teams without dedicated devops experts, and teams where everyone who originally built the system has left.
This touches on something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
Even with the limited, “idealized” scope, there is a staggering amount of writing on the software industry, and from within it. More broadly, the technology industry as a whole has so much written about it. The article I’m referring to in this post is an example itself.
I can’t think of another industry where you can find out about its inner workings to the extent you can with the technology industry, simply by reading what people have written. Everything from the smallest office politics to the grandest visions have been described in writing. People have written analyses on these, and there are people who analyze the analyses. Just look at Hacker News.
Collecting all these writings together, you might end up with a modern day In Search of Lost Time. A meandering from compiler optimization and escape analysis, to why a company bought back its shares from investors.
Take the technology industry as a whole, at least the part of it that has the most influence today, and it probably represents 1% of what’s going on in the world
I think it may be interesting and perhaps even worthwhile to have more people write about more stuff. Not writing about things that everyone already knows about or things that wouldn’t surprise people to find out, but rather writing about the inner dynamics that you can’t experience unless you are there.
For example, if a person is a software developer, they will eventually come to know that in reality, code is messy, and it’s a wonder that anything actually works. But it doesn’t take much to pick that up after enough reading, without being in the industry itself.
There’s probably a lot of this nuance in other things that you simply can’t read about online, because it doesn’t exist.
Marcel Proust gave us a recollection of French society.
We’re giving ourselves a recollection that society was eaten by software.