Cameron Watters Software Engineer and Leader in Phoenix and Seattle

Links for November 2006

Joel Spolsky, on software company leadership

…[I]f you want to be successful in the software business, you have to have a management team that thoroughly understands and loves programming, but they have to understand and love business, too. Finding a leader with strong aptitude in both dimensions is difficult, but it’s the only way to avoid making one of those fatal mistakes…

It’s an old article, but it fits with the theme of stuff I’ve been thinking about lately.

Dave Winer, on the role of “business” people in tech

I’ve heard it said many times that the march of progress means that business people take over from the pioneers, but I’ve observed the opposite. When the boom is finished, the technology will still be here, and while progress may have suffered during the euphoria (the money is rarely used to fund new ideas), the ball never really stops rolling while everyone is focused on the money-obsessed. When the boom is over, we’ll still be here, pushing new ideas forward.

Philip Greenspun, on complaining

It struck me that someone who complains constantly should be marked down as remarkably optimistic. The complainer believes that people actually might care.

I liked this quote, but I’m not sure I entirely agree with the rest of his sentiment, which is that the most pessimistic people are the non-complainers. I imagine a large group of the non-complainers are pessimists, but there’s a sizable group of non-complainers that are just unaware that something is wrong. A smaller group of non-complainers is also made up of discouraged former complainers (but still optimists at heart), bitter and jaded that nobody ever listens.

Seth Godin, on customer service

Either you’re going to make someone happy or you’re not. Doing the ‘right’ thing is irrelevant.

At least if it means not making them happy, anyway. As far as they’re concerned, the ‘right’ thing is to make them happy.

Paul Graham, on the income gap

When we say that one kind of work is overpaid and another underpaid, what are we really saying? In a free market, prices are determined by what buyers want. People like baseball more than poetry, so baseball players make more than poets. To say that a certain kind of work is underpaid is thus identical with saying that people want the wrong things.

The principles from this essay can readily be extrapolated to other related topics, including the relative value of employees to an organization.

Seth Godin

Before you embrace your wonderful solution to the marketplace’s problem, first decide how many of consumers are choosing to listen to messages like yours. Are they listening in a medium you can afford?

Kathy Sierra, on managing trouble-makers

…too many managers appear too threatened to figure out whether their trouble-maker is the one person who can really push things forward, or the one who simply thrives on being disruptive.

I wonder if it’s possible for the answer to be some of both.

Joel Spolsky, on choices

This highlights a style of software design shared by Microsoft and the open source movement, in both cases driven by a desire for consensus and for “Making Everybody Happy,” but it’s based on the misconceived notion that lots of choices make people happy, which we really need to rethink.

J Allard, on changing the world

“The only way to change the world is to imagine it different than the way it is today,” he says. “Apply too much of the wisdom and knowledge that got us here, and you end up right where you started. Take a fresh look from a new perspective, and get a new result.”

The Cluetrain Manifesto, on sedition

The Internet is inherently seditious. It undermines unthinking respect for centralized authority, whether that “authority” is the neatly homogenized voice of broadcast advertising or the smarmy rhetoric of the corporate annual report.

No, this isn’t new. And no, it isn’t the first time I’ve read it. But I’m reading it again, and this sentence (again) resonated with me as I read it.