Reading do-ers rather than talkers

A while back I unsubscribed from a whole lot of what I considered to be marketing blogs. The people writing them weren’t necessarily in marketing, but all they wrote about was what other people were doing and they weren’t technical. Meaning, they weren’t writing any code. Chris Pirillo and Robert Scoble are good examples of this. There’s nothing wrong with the information they are giving their readers, but it wasn’t helping me grow as a programmer or a leader. Most of what they say is either echoes of what other people are saying OR is echoed by other people eventually. I said I was smarter for not having read them and I still feel that way. Since I re-organized my reading list to contain more coders (do-ers), I feel my skills have improved and I’m much more knowlegable.

Ted leung said:

One of the reasons that I asked Gabe Rivera for a personalizable Techmeme is that my personal “A-list” is very different from the A-list that Techmeme tracks. The majority of these folks don’t build systems, and they are all doing variations of the same analysis. For my reading hours, the best values are the blogs of those people who are actually building systems, getting cut by the sharp edges, exulting in the delights of a new discovery, or just the downright cool hack. The tech blogosphere is getting “enterprisey”, for lack of a better description, and as it does, it gets less interesting.

I disagree a little, I don’t think the tech blogosphere is getting “enterprisey”. I think Techmeme is getting “enterprisey”. I stopped reading Techmeme back when Microsoft announced that Vista would only support Visual Studio 2005 and the top post for that day was a post by Michael Arrington announcing a closed beta of a Microsoft social network, Wallop. That was the nail in the coffin for Techmeme as far as I’m concerned. Look at that page and look how many other links the Techcrunch article has vs. the Visual studio article. When the VP of the worlds largest software corporation makes an announcement that affect millions of developers in EVERY country in the world, how can it not be the top story for that entire day? That to me, told me everything I needed to know about the algorithm and the blogroll that seeded Techmeme. Other times, I’ve seen posts by Techcrunch or Scoble or Steve Rubel get “ranked” by Techmeme above the actual announcements they are pointing to?! Techmeme doesn’t represent the tech workers, it represents the tech business. I don’t mind tech blogs talking about enterprise issues. If I had to make up a number out of thin air with no proof or basis in reality, I’d have to say that 70-80% of all of the programmers in the world are writing software in the enterprise.

My suggestion to other tech workers is to get off the “A-list” and start digging around in the tech blogs. Got a favorite framework? Check out the developer blogs. They often link to other developers or forums that are related to the technology they are using. The Reddit programming section is good as well as DZone. I mean, do you really, really care who Cisco has acquired, what Google might be releasing, or who Michael Arrington met with last week?

  • Pingback: Jeffrey Palermo [C# MVP]

  • http://www.sauria.com/blog Ted Leung

    I did say enterprisey was the wrong word. But it’s also case that a lot of the “developer” blogs are also kind of uninteresting as well, so it’s just just the business and marketing blogs, much as those are growing.

  • http://douglaskarr.com Doug Karr

    That’s an interesting post. I must say that I pay much more attention to bloggers who provide content beyond opinion. Perhaps some of this has to do with the blogosphere really taking off under the umbrella of open source development, where many of the bloggers were actually contributors. I like to contribute as well.

    Ironically, folks have told me they don’t read many of the articles on my blog because some of the topics are over their head. So the $100 question… do I simplify and attract more? Or do I stick to my ‘marketing and automation’ theme? I’m going to stick with my theme of course… it’s what I love and what I enjoy writing about. Even if it doesn’t attract a million visitors.

    Regards,
    Doug

  • http://www.darrenbarefoot.com Darren

    I came here via Scoble’s blog, and I’m in marketing, so take what I say with a giant salt lick. I was curious about this phrase:

    “It wasn’t helping me grow as a programmer or a leader”

    I follow the programmer bit, but why weren’t they helping you grow as a leader? And why would tech blogs be more helpful on that front? I ask because the vast majority of the developers I know explicitly don’t want to be leaders–that’s one of the reasons they went into software development.

  • http://www.zaptxt.com sameer

    Hey Darren:
    This statement is surprising “I ask because the vast majority of the developers I know explicitly don’t want to be leaders–that’s one of the reasons they went into software development.”

    You sure about that? I know many VP’s of Engineering, CTOs and CIOs and in some cases, CEO’s of leading organizaiton that got their fundamentals right as developers. Infact I know many CIOs that won’t hire senior management that have never rolled up their sleeves and been inthe developent trenches at some point.

    I’m not a software developer. I just look at the team I’m part of (that has softwaredevelopers) and so don’t see them hiding from leadership by electing to be software developers.

    P.S. Scott, apologies for taking this post on a detour. :)

  • http://www.darrenbarefoot.com Darren

    Let’s say “vast majority” is 80%. Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that 80% of the programmers I’ve known don’t aspire to leadership positions. That still leaves the most extroverted 20% to fill those jobs you describe. I also know a bunch of developers who are reluctant leaders–they lead teams because that’s the developmental path for them.

  • Scott

    Doug:
    “So the $100 question… do I simplify and attract more? Or do I stick to my ‘marketing and automation’ theme? I’m going to stick with my theme of course… it’s what I love and what I enjoy writing about. Even if it doesn’t attract a million visitors.”

    Bingo, it’s your dime. Do what you want with your blog(s). It takes a lot of time and effort to grow a blog into a big traffic blog. I don’t have that kind of time and I don’t really care if I get a big audience. In fact, I’m surprised every time someone comments here. In fact, if our satellite TV wasn’t down right now due to our remodel, I’d be watching the Amazing Race right now. ;) If you write to please other people, you end up writing what other people want to read instead of what you want to write.

    Darren and Sameer:
    “I follow the programmer bit, but why weren’t they helping you grow as a leader?”
    “In fact I know many CIOs that won’t hire senior management that have never rolled up their sleeves and been in the developent trenches at some point.”
    “I also know a bunch of developers who are reluctant leaders–they lead teams because that’s the developmental path for them.”

    Don’t confuse leadership with management or just a career path. I agree, most developers end up as ‘suits” simply because most companies aren’t ISV’s or Microsoft. When the developer reaches the highest developer level, what else can management do with them? Increment their level number another notch? Sometimes they create a new position “tech lead” or “development manager”. But that’s usually not what the developer really wants.

    When I speak of being a “leader”, I’m talking more about enabling success in those around you rather than being responsible for a team. I think my particular leadership style is leading by example. I encourage people with less development experience than me to stop by anytime and ask questions. I often ask them for feedback on the code I’ve written. if I don’t know the answer to their question, I often do some research and send them whatever I find. I encourage them to share their knowledge with the rest of the team. By default, developers who blog about technical topics are sharing their experience with the world and are often leaders in spirit if not in title on their team at work.. I like to see how they phrase things and how they solve problems. Since I only have so much time each day, usually about 2 hours, 3 if I only want to get 5-6 hours of sleep that night, I try to pare down my reading list to only those technical blogs that give me the most “bang for my buck” in terms of technical knowledge and lessons on leadership.

  • http://engtech.wordpress.com engtech

    One problem is that blogging and “getting things done” are usually mutually exclusive.

  • Pingback: Lazycoder » Modern Javascript Development

  • Pingback: Still Learning » Talkers vs Doers

  • Pingback: Still Learning » Blog Archive » Talker vs Doers - What you are?