How Software Development is like Drug Dealing
So I`m going back to school. As an undergraduate, again, which is weird, and makes me think, oh crap, have I gone through a wormhole to 1996? I don’t want to write static HTML and drink instant and get up at 5:30 AM to watch Samurai Pizza Cats and hear everybody doing the Sling Blade voice french fried pertaters mm-hmm WTF OMG!!!1 I don’t know if I`m ready to be 18 again, or like father, like son, or even trading places. I mean, sure, I can handle the first day of school and essays and final exams and parties without beer (ooh, that was a shudder; but the thing that worries me most is leaving the steady supply of mortgage payments and yogurt cups that comes from working in software.
Who’s that developer wa-a-a-ay at the bottom of the food chain? Mm, tastes like plankton!
I said as much to a fellow programmer/dealer, and he mentioned a couple of other similarities. So here, officially, is the master list of reasons my job is like dealing drugs:
- There’s always somebody over you who owns the product. You own nothing — not even the gas-guzzling `99 Jeep Cherokee you bought with your gruesome profiteering.
- You are utterly at the whim of the customers — the *users*. If you can’t give `em the good stuff fast enough and clean enough they`ll find another source or worse: quit using.
- You can’t talk about your work with your family because no one wants to hear about it.
“You see, Hibernate handles your object-relational database mapping, and it’s much better than OJB because you won’t need your own prox-“
If you were on a blind date (which, in your line of work, they`d all probably have to be) you`d probably do well to say you did something else. Architect is good.
- You make promises about your product you can’t possibly keep (Longhorn, PS3, there are no bugs, first one’s free, etc.)
- Your product has no shelf life. No matter what it is or how great it is, in three years it`ll be garbage.
- After a few years of excitement and growth, you`ll never do anything new. Same stuff, different language. Twenty years in the industry programming in the highest-end most beautiful Java-Ruby-Smalltalk-kinda language and you`ll still find yourself writing a register/login/logout sequence. Again. This time with feeling.
You know Lucas Black? The kid from Sling Blade and American Gothic who would have made a good Anakin Skywalker? He’s almost 22. I probably could have figured this out already but I didn’t see Cold Mountain. Where was the legality-countdown for this one?