While I agree with the title, the actual text of this article is pretty much “good coders aren’t like <things that don’t describe me>, they’re like <things that do describe me>”.
Grouping two 30-year-old female characters in with the Carver from Silicon Valley tops off what is pretty much an exercise in gatekeeping. I know plenty of good coders who don’t start being productive until after 9pm, who are brilliant but absent-minded enough to leave backups near speakers, who blast music, who wear confrontational t-shirts etc.
Enough with the school-age hacker god bullshit. Here is a recent picture of John Carmack. I bet he is a better coder than you, or me. He has even more grey hair than me.
Carmack’s first game was released when he was nineteen.. founded id Software by 21.
Yep. Ken Silvernan (sp?) was even younger when he made the Build engine iirc.
Those examples were just kinda painful and undermined the author’s entire point.
First, the two female characters shown were actresses around 30. There are some good coders by 30. Not a huge number, and anyone who’s a good coder at 29 is likely to be even better at 35 and 45 and so on, but it does exist. You can pretty quickly (2-3 years?) get up to the ~95th percentile by landing in the right community (i.e. your first job being at a company doing FP or machine learning instead of an enterprise Java shop). Getting to the 99th percentile takes a lot more work and many more years and exposure to a lot of different stuff. I haven’t met a programmer under 40 that I’d put in that category.
Anyway, I agree that this stereotype is harmful and stupid. I wonder if this applies to other industries. For example, comedy writers on TV are usually young and hungry, even though writers peak quite late. Similarly, TV shows and rom-coms and the like portray “work” as this place where people in their 20s get paid to have ideas. Pop culture has to make Corporate (which includes “startup life”) look fresher and sexier than it is because two-and-a-half thousand hours of despair annually just doesn’t make for good movies. Hence we have a world full of open-plan tech companies that literally produce nothing of value except for a “scene”, i.e. an office full of young people that can be acqui-hired at $3M/head if someone at Google or Facebook owes the VC a favor. No one knows what these companies do, but it has nothing to do with technical excellence. It just looks like technical excellence to MBAs at Google and to VCs, and that’s close enough.
Can an abrasive 30-year-old like the fictional Carla (Silicon Valley) be a great coder? Absolutely. As I said, getting to the 95th percentile is quick, just because most programmers work in enterprise Java shops where little is learned and because most employers no longer invest in their people, so you can very quickly get ahead of the most of the pack; but getting into the true elite (99th percentile, then the Carmack level) takes a hell of a lot longer.
As for the teenage coding genius, well… that’s patently ridiculous.
Yeah the female characters in this article are far from teenagers. Plus Halt and Catch Fire takes place in the 80s and Cameron’s over confidence and recklessness as a young coder are a recurring theme in the show.
The premise of this article is legit but the examples given are terrible.