Resume-Driven Development

2017-05-30 / All Blog posts

I had occasion to speak with a technical manager at a Very Large Corporation at length recently. He wanted advice on where to find Spark programmers. After my usual 20 questions I realized that his project did not have any requirement for the usual Spark capabilities:

This man just wanted to put "I managed the development of an Apache Spark application" on his resume.

Shine Up That Turd

Buffing up a resume with a nonsensical misapplication of the latest software fashion is nothing new. Few people involved with such a project have a positive experience, however. When complex technologies are misapplied they often fail to deliver value, or the project just fails, which contributes to the trough of disillusionment that Gartner often reports on.

Consider the cynical and selfish world view that such a person must have in order to engage in this sort of activity. Software professionals are rewarded for being fashionable, and part of the mystique is to say and do things that others don't fully comprehend. If one keeps moving fast enough, and learns some key phrases to use as putdowns that sound impressive but have no meaning when taken out of context ("your approach would likely cause a data race condition"), others are kept off balance long enough for the perpetrator to achieve advantage.

As W.C. Fields said 100 years ago: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit." He also made a movie entitled Never Give a Sucker an Even Break... but I digress.

Fashion is the Enemy of Delivering Valuable Results on Time

I often remark that the software business is just like the fashion business. The cycle goes like this:

Docs are not written to be understood, they are written to encourage payments to the digital elite – who have no interest in providing value; they just want to make money from foolish lemmings. This encourages others to aspire to be elitists. The hype cycle only works because our society accepts bullshit, and software has become a cultural phenomenon. We have the software quality and utility that we deserve as a society.

We in the software business have an insatiable need to be frickin cool, and have little interst in providing value, because that is either too hard for the many posers in the software business, or too boring for those who are capable but jaded.

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