I Guess Im Not A 501 Developer

Update: here’s a cached link for the 501 manifesto.

When I started reading the 501 Manifesto, I agreed wholeheartedly. Coding jobs (especially in San Francisco) encourage you to have long hours at work, and I don’t enjoy that. I want programming to be fun, and forced long hours make it work. So great job, 501 Developer Manifesto, I’m right behind you.

Then I get to this:

If you:

  • Write a technical blog
  • Contribute to open source projects
  • Attend user groups in your spare time
  • Mostly only read books about coding and productivity
  • Push to GitHub while sitting on the toilet
  • Are committed to maximum awesomeness at all times, or would have us believe it

…we respect you for it. There’s probably some pity in there too, but honestly, it’s mostly respect.

You lost me. Most of these apply to me. You see, programming isn’t a job for me…it’s a passion. I contribute to open source projects, not because I am awesome, but because programming is awesome. Think about it: with a computer, you have the power to make almost anything you want, as long as you can think out the logic. I think that is every nerd’s wet dream.

Open source is a wonderful thing. It gives me projects like Acme::Bleach and Semicolon and Haskell – projects with no real world value that exist because the author wanted them to. All kidding aside, this is the bit that irked me. Open source allows us to innovate at a speed most jobs don’t even dream of. Don’t you see how much technology has changed in just the last 5 years? You have thousands of peers who love making things work better…most vocations should be so lucky.

I was so certain I was a 501 developer. I like spending time with friends, and I like working on my projects at a sustainable pace. I always look for reasonable work hours at any new job. Hell, I’d love to find a job that lets me work less than 40 hours a week. You had me. But I’m also a programmer because I love programming. And maybe that’s not true for you: you became a programmer because you were good at it and it paid well. zacharyvoase on HN put it well:

It’s just 8 hours a day. 5 days a week. Roughly 25% of your life. Another 33.3% is spent asleep. All the ‘big events’ in your life will be squeezed into the precious little time you have left after survival’s necessary subtractions. Going to school. Getting drunk. Being hungover. Getting married. Buying a house. Attending funerals. I decided I’m not spending over 25% of my life (37.5% of my waking life) doing something I don’t LOVE.

To which I guess you would say:

To us it is just a job, but we still do it well.

You don’t love programming. I respect that. But the second part makes it sound like your days of learning and creating ended when you got your diploma. I can’t respect that.

P.S. Keep your pity.

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