I have read Phil Haack's post a week ago, and I have been thinking about it since then.
"But when you think about it, games and operating system kernels make up a very small percentage of all software being written today. In terms of public interest and buzz, building software for the web appears to be the only software development that really matters."
In other words, let's ignore all those pesky developers working server side, web services, winforms applications.
They don't matter because they don't develop software for the web.
Sorry, I can't agree with a single word in that statement.
I think the problem starts with Phil's definition of "Alpha Geeks".
Let's use for a minute his view that an Alpha Geek must be ALT developer:
- You’re the type of developer who uses what works while keeping an eye out for a better way.
- You reach outside the mainstream to adopt the best of any community: Open Source, Agile, Java, Ruby, etc.
- You’re not content with the status quo. Things can always be better expressed, more elegant and simple, more mutable, higher quality, etc.
- You know tools are great, but they only take you so far. It’s the principles (sic) and knowledge that really matter. The best tools are those that embed the knowledge and encourage the principals (e.g. Resharper.)
I think I can call Anders Hejlsberg (invented C#) "Alpha Geek", and he had nothing to do with web software. He may be considered ALT developer, since he took current (Java) ideas and formed a new language based on them.
In fact, based on that definition, I can claim the entire P&P team in MS are ALT.Net developers, since they keep taking new concepts from outside the conventional MS world and using them.
So ALT developer <> web developer.
But I think Phil's entire view of "Alpha Geek" is wrong - it has nothing to do with ALT devs.
Let's view the biology definition of "Alpha" (from Wikipedia):
In social animals, the alpha male or alpha female is the individual in the community whom the others follow and defer to.
In other words, "Alpha Geeks" are leaders of the geeks community.
Being a community leader has nothing with web development.
Scott Hanselman records a great podcast. Joel Spolskyis a talented writer. Jeff Atwood writes about the people writing software.
Each one has thousands of readers, and the reason they are popular has nothing to do with web development.