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The Noobification Of Everything

 15. August 2017

friend matt asked me to elaborate on “the noobification of everything” in the geek trades. this is a floppy vague one as yet, so be prepared to play fast and loose.

the so-far endless demand for new software has created a poor skills distribution curve into the trade. divide ever-so-arbitrarily our ranks into 5, dreyfus-style or thereabouts. 1’s know where to put semi-colons. 5’s know as much as we all know about geekery.

we have way too many 1’s for our 5’s. the world needs us, tho, desperately. so the in-between ranks get increasingly filled with psuedo’s. people in those intermediate ranks are teachers & coaches. but they’re not actually much better at geekery than the 1’s they teach. in everyday parlance, they’re a half-chapter ahead. did u finish the book before the others? abracadabra, you’re a 4!!

this force drives the trade downward. it makes us favor rulesets over judgment. slogans over thought. it leads inevitably to the thing i’ve called “idols of the schema”. it feels we have to create known-bad rulesets just to stay in it. and humans being what we are, we can’t call those known-bad sets “known-bad”. there’s control at stake, and morale & ego & money.

people, lots of people, have been taught “never” and “always” based on ideas that just aren’t that good.

it’s one thing to teach an “always” when you mean “97.9% of the time”. it’s another thing to say “always” when you mean “57.3%”. and because our psuedo-2’s and psuedo-3’s have neither time nor 4’s to help them along, there we stay.

traditionally, the 5’s are the oft-lonely explorers, out there forging new ideas for us all. they trend against forwarding any but 4’s. and we wind up further and further away from having a body of knowledge & practice that actually works.

we just sell rulesets that don’t work.

i call this the noobification of everything. i call it lots of things, actually. when u hear me talk about idols of the schema, i’m talking consequences. when u hear me talk about “insufficient paths out of shu”, the same.

we are not, as a trade, improving the performance of our juniors. we’re just hiring more 1’s, over & over.

we give them a stick, point out which end the bullet comes from, and send them over the wall. we collapse into idol debates on the border between categories, flavor wars, drive-by critiques, and magazine-cover bullshit. (heh, typo “idol debates” was meant to be “idle debates”, but actually, that’s not bad.)

and that’s what i got. the noobification of everything leaves me deeply demoralized, shotgun-surgery angry, & not doing what i want. is there a way out? hell, i don’t know. i’ve heard proposals, but most of them – being pissy here – come from psuedo-2’s.

here’s what i am doing, in the likely vain hope that it will help.

i am resisting rulesets, flavor-debates, and hierarchical controls, everywhere i see them.

i am searching my active practice for what i am calling “plays” in a “playbook”, a catalog of moves i make. i am stopping the pretense that professional geekery is reducible to “coding”. i am raising my position in the trade so i have a more wide-reaching pulpit.

i am not building a new list of never’s and alway’s. i am not debating corner cases. i am not going to produce a new theory of software.

i am trying really really really hard to be kind, not mean, encouraging not disparaging. as much as i can manage. and i’m forgiving me so i can forgive others. i’m searching out my mistakes and laughing with them.

i’m trying to be at the same time more passionate and less definitive.

that’s all i got. thanks.

now see what u did!?!