Sunday, June 17, 2007

Alpha geeks and Morts

I have been reading for the past month or so a large number of blog posts dealing with Microsoft's lack of respect for "Alpha geeks" and the inferiority of "Mort" type developers.
I already objected in the past to some of the places this superiority complex was taking some developers, mainly the idea that those "Alpha geeks" somehow lead the developers community toward a brighter and better place.

So I decided to check out the original meaning of the phrase, and guess what I found:
Tim's view was that alpha geeks, as a whole, are leading indicators.
In this context, at least, it doesn't necessarily indicate that the alpha geeks are the best technologists - someone who is very expert in a particular technology but doesn't look for new stuff wouldn't fit. "Alpha" also has connotations of superiority and dominance that also don't necessarily fit. The point in this context is that alpha geeks are the people who like to explore and try new things.

Not leaders (as the "Alpha" term implies) and not master technologists - only market indicators.
If we use this meaning, Microsoft shouldn't build software to address those people - it just need to study their behavior and respond as it sees fit.

And that brings us to "Mort".
The fact is most "Mort" type developers get their job done. Maybe they don't write the most beautiful code out there and they like to use wizards - but that doesn't mean they write bad software.
Maybe we should add the "humility" attribute to the "Alt.Net" developer's list of qualities.

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