Craig Rowe

Techlead / Developer

16th August 2011

Why you should try to be a middle class developer

You may not know this but this blog has been xml based since its inception (in fact there's a longstanding, not yet achieved, task to 'replace' it with a 'better' persistant storage mechanism -- clearly I must agree then, that the perfect is the enemy of the good). But anyway... don't worry. I'm not about to do anotherblogaboutxml.

My point/warning really is that the root node of my articles xml is 'articles' as you might expect. The root node of the blog/front page however has always been 'Rambling'... ...so let the <ramble> begin...

Some time ago I had an idea for a blog post talking about various developer 'personas'. Mainly to give me a chance to talk about the many hats web developers are required to wear day to day. That never came about, however a clip show, or the internet, or a random thought reminded me of this:

The famous class sketch between Cleese, Barker and Corbett

Now, I've talked before about developer humility and what to look for when applying for a job. However there is another, perhaps even more important, thing to consider when plucking for a place to work or finding people to surround yourself with:

Can you be the Ronnie Barker in the comedy sketch that is your career?

Perhaps, you may say, it's obvious that you will want someone to look up to. Someone to aspire to be. Moreover you may want to actually be the 'top dog' (the Cleese in this ever imagination stretching metaphor that is my mid year ramble).

My argument would be that you want, for as long as possible to be Barker. You want to learn from someone but also to be able to teach those Corbetts among us. You don't want to rest on your laurels, don't want to avoid being questionned by someone who may actually know more than you and you definitely don't want a superiority complex.

On the other side the teaching of others 'below you' is in itself developing your understanding. Never underestimate the power of trying to teach someone else something that you think you understand.

"It is the way of the world, Baldrick. The abused always kick downwards. I'm annoyed, and so I kick the cat. The cat pounces on the mouse, and finally, the mouse..." "...bites you on the behind." Edmund B.

You need to be kicked every now and then and to be honest to realise that you never will be Cleese. In fact agree with yourself now that you won't ever be. If you think you are then you've stopped trying to get better or are just plain ignorant of the vast skill and ingenuity that is out there now and was there before allowing you to stand on their shoulders.

If you can't find these roles within your organisation (and many of us can't) put yourself out there, find Cleese at a conference or a Corbett to mentor or help on stackoverflow.


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