Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Would Rather Be A Jazz Programmer

I have reading a bit lately about "rockstar" programmers. Recruiter ads are proclaiming "Rockstar programmer needed". Various websites named rockstar<name of technology> or alternately <name of technology>rockstars are springing up everywhere.

I would rather be a "jazz musician" programmer, myself. Nothing against rock, don't get me wrong. Glam, punk, metal, I can go there. I frequently do. It's the "star" part, that has been starting to bother me.

Here are some differences, as I see them:

- One big hit song, then disappears
- Embarrass themselves as they age
- Claims they wrote the song
- Keeps trying to get back that sound they used to have
- Gets back together with the old band after unsuccessful solo careers
- Wants to marry a model and have a movie cameo
- Won't play without a contract and advance payment

- One big hit, and they become an influence
- Get cooler with age
- Claims the song is just a cool arrangement of a standard
- Keeps trying to produce a new sound
- Records with a variety of musicians over time
- Wants to become a professor at Berkeley School of Music
- Jams on the street corner just because they feel like it


Jarosław Rzeszótko said...

Marrying a model is certainly more fun than becoming a professor, through...

sam said...

sztywny: how many 50-year conversations have you attempted to have with models? Give me a jazz programmer spouse and the professorship, please.

Chris McMahon said...

Thanks for saying that:

Rafe Saltman said...

Berklee, not Berkeley.

Unknown said...

An oldy but a goody:


Seanicus said...

Right on!

(btw it's Berklee, not Berkeley -- different schools altogether)

Ron Evans said...

Oops, you all were right about meaning Berklee, and not Berkeley. I stand corrected!

And Michael, I love the reference to the old wiki entry! Maybe Avi Bryant was right, the old guys really HAVE figured out all of the answers...

Unknown said...

Also, it's 'one big hit', not a one-bit hit, unless you were the one who wrote one of the classics 'On' or 'Off'.

pouexmachinax said...

I am already a Jazz Programmer!

Paulo Eduardo Neves said...

But a lot of jazz musicians just play for themselfs. They don't mind if the public is understanding their music.

I don't want to be your user:-)

rcaceres said...

I'd rather be a jazz musician than a programmer....

Unknown said...


make no money and get no mass recognition despite indirectly influencing an entire generation of rock stars.

I personally am a Polka programmer: get drunk and have fun.

Unknown said...

Haha - that's hilarious.

I was just looking at Craigs List the other day (those ads are EVERYWHERE) and thinking how cliched and annoying that term is.

Of course, all of the HR folks are patting themselves on the back about their exciting, innovative prose. Blah!

Zenpho said...

When I read the title of the post, I thought you meant a programming the backing tracks for Jazz on drum machines and synthesisers. ;o)

Jamie said...

I'm a french horn player so I probably wouldn't be a good jazz musician...well, probably a lousy rockstar also. I'll be a classical musician:
- Gets better with age
- Gets no respect in the music commumity
- Is always working on some gig
- Always has private students who think your a god
- Never gets the girl...ok, I don't want this one it just comes with the territory

Andy said...

Hah, that's great !

Give me some time and I'll see if I can add some bass-player angles to that metphor.

railsnut blog

David Chelimsky said...

Hey Ron - you might get a kick out of these entries from a while back. More of an agile/jazz analogy but still. Hope you enjoy them!

Ron Evans said...

Hey, David, those are very cool links. Thank you posting them here.

That improvised jazzy feel was one of my favorite aspects of your RubyConf 2007 presentation... the ping-pong programming you did with Dave Astels was awesome, and looked really fun too!

Jackson said...

I am a programmer, but I went to college for Jazz.

Some other key traits of a Jazz programmer:
- Expert at improvisation
- Makes decisions based on what is changing in real time

Also, a Dizzy quote is fitting:
"It has taken me all my life to learn what not to play."

Christian Nunciato said...

Hear hear, brother!

Unknown said...

Kent beck once said: "Programming so that you can feel like a hero is a whole lot different than programming so that you have a program"