This article sums up beautifully exactly what I find refreshing about this place: I feel like I can post without the snide egotistical remarks one might get on other well known sites. I don’t know whether that’s because this place is still small or because the users seem generally friendly but it’s welcome whatever the reason.
I believe quality is a function of community size, which Lobste.rs keeps in check by requiring invites.
Slashdot, Reddit, Hacker News, and Quora had much better signal to noise ratio during their early days. When communities and companies grow, quality converges to the median. This is implicitly understood: the average 2003 Google hire is typically higher caliber than a 2014 hire. Employee #5 > Employee #30000.
There’s a lot of truth to this (my current $work project is largely in Java and Python) but, as a programming language enthusiast, I’d like to point out that playing with unusual programming languages can be fun. Just don’t expect it to make programming problems disappear. (Sometimes, though, unlike a guitar pickup, a better language can make a significant difference in the difficulty of a problem.)
As a guitar player and computer programmer, I totally get this, and in fact have been a Gear Fetishist sometimes, though I tend do that more when it comes to guitar than programming.
This kind of behavior is all over in sports, and I’ve been a sucker myself in paintball, golf, hell, even hacky sack (or as its non-trademark name: footbag). On golf forums, I’ve seen it referred to as “blaming the arrow, not the archer.” New clubs won’t help get you to break 100, you need to practice and get a few lessons (and I’m one of those “struggle to break 100” guys)
Interestingly, the one sport where I don’t see this at all is beach volleyball. You have basically one of two kinds of balls (Wilson AVP or Spalding King of the Beach) and that’s basically it for gear. This is, unfortunately, part of the reason Beach Volleyball has difficulty growing at the grassroots and professional levels - it’s difficult to attract sponsors because there isn’t any merchandise you can sell for BVB that suckers will buy to think it’ll help their game. Whereas in golf, there’s always the next new line of clubs, or in paintball, you can buy a faster marker or faster feeding Hopper.
Anyway, that’s a hell of a tangent.
The analogy is a bit off as different languages, libraries, and frameworks are like different instruments and where you fall on this spectrum does say a lot about the type of problems you can solve. As a developer, you can be a composer rather than a player and use different instruments to achieve the sound, tone, mood, etc that you are wanting to set.
Case in point, if you only know PHP, you’re quite limited to the types of applications and depth of thinking. There are a lot of people that fall in this category. I’d much rather wrangle gear fetishists and language lawyers into submission than deal with one language programmers.
Sure, one-language programmers are the other extreme. The author isn’t referring to people who are willing to try new things, he’s talking about people who expect the shiny new thing to make everything better by compensating for their lack of skill. If you give a skilled musician a better instrument, their playing will sound better. If you give a better instrument to a novice, they’ll probably still sound like crap.
I remember when I read the STL paper in 1996, I was really excited, and I had a bunch of programs I wanted to try to write in this new paradigm of generic programming. But it turned out our compilers didn’t really support C++ templates that well yet, so the STL didn’t really work yet. Rather than write the programs in some less DRY or less efficient way, I decided to wait until the compilers were ready.
I never wrote the programs. Of course.
When I was building an Ergodox keyboard I read the GeekHack.org forums. They are very much a keyboard forum and not a typing forum. I couldn’t put my finger on that until I read this article.
Excellent write up.
Nice to have a collective name for these people. They inhabit every part of life, work, hobbies, etc.
In my cynical moments I refer to them as having “all the gear, but no idea”, but gear fetishist is much nicer.
Trouble is I like to have all the nice new shiny stuff, fancy upgrades, gadgets, gizmos, etc. So I may have to include myself as a fetishist - although I do learn how, and when, to use them. Even if I could do the same things with less shiny, older, non-upgraded kit.
Drives my wife mad!
My blue nitro lee ranaldo signature jazzmaster with mastery bridge, stay trem tremolo and curt novak rebuilt wide range humbuckers gently weeps.
I find some refreshment knowing that I have played it on stage more than a few times.
But to extend the metaphor, aren’t there people searching for vintage tone in programming as well? Only using C, Lisp, etc or similarly old language because it’s the best. Idolizing the folks who truly master a given language is similar to idolizing certain masterful players.
Only using C, Lisp, etc or similarly old language because it’s the
best. Idolizing the folks who truly master a given language is
similar to idolizing certain masterful players.
In some ways, I liken this argument to my time with photography. I
started out with a point and shoot, and went as far with that as I
could. When I ran into limitations in the hardware, I finally upgraded
to a (low-end) SLR. Having the SLR didn’t mean I stopped using the point
and shoot; there are certainly times where the size and ease of taking
photos with it beat out using the SLR. Similarly, when I was doing
embedded development there was no way you were going to write in another
language besides C due to size constraints and not getting anywhere near
to low-level enough to work. I used C quite a bit elsewhere after a
while because it was just what I was used to.
I think the point one hits gear fetishism is the point where one
upgrades kit not due to any particular need to or out of a desire to
play with particular properties of that kit (i.e. the hacker tendency),
but in the belief that it is through gear alone that you will improve.