I think Gittip is so interesting that I wish I knew more adjectives to describe it. This takes Steve Yegge’s self marketing advice (which stackoverflow was that?, codinghorror link) and Joel’s advice to blog (create great google results for your name) and kind of puts this all to a test. Can we write great code and let the fame come? Or do we have to write pretty good code and market ourselves?
What on earth do the sales guys do? Why should I buy the name brand? Aren’t I overpaying just for marketing?
I’m even watching a TED talk right now by Rory Sutherland about perceived value increasing real value (he is an ad man pimping the marketing department). It’s just a fascinating topic to me. The sales value is absolutely there, and we all take advantage of it. Marketing and sales are, essentially, saving us the time of having to research each decision we make. When it comes to decision time, we already have some answers in our head and don’t have to start from nothing, there is real value there.
But this is an art! We are purists! Code is poetry! Other propaganda! So what happens when you spend so much time releasing great code, that nobody ever hears about it? What happens when you are so good, people don’t think they need you? We’ve all heard that programmers introduce bugs just for job security right? Or that a security admin has a horrible job because the only time you deal with them is during a catastrophe so you always think they are bad at what they do. So how do you split your time between doing your job, and telling people about you doing your job?
What happens if nobody tips the real hardcore open source developers? Does that mean that the sales guys *really are* the only reason any of us have jobs? Does that justify the insanely high salaries of CEOs who spend all their time playing golf with business contacts?
I see the current state of software development as a revolution against the corporate structure. Anyone with a good idea and some coding ability has the opportunity, not so much to become rich, but to develop a passive income stream that makes them truly free. Gittip is another piece of that distributed infrastructure that is empowering developers.
Or… What happens when we stretch ourselves so thin that nobody can do anything full time. When everyone has created their own todo list app, their own blog, their own libraries for their favorite daemons and languages. When people recreate the wheel as a habit just because it’s the only way to get their name out there?
I mean, when the barriers of entry become so low, for both development (open source resources) and marketing (tweets, Facebook ,whatever), the competition becomes so rampant that you can’t possibly recoup your investment in an economically reasonable way. Sure, creating something people use is its own reward, but the landlord really doesn’t care. Somebody has to pay you enough to live.
I heard a discussion at a NOVAPy meeting during Kenneth Reitz’s talk. Taking both parties out of context, Kenneth had said that when you create something great, the people will come. And for Kenneth, he did. And they did. Ed said he has seen lots of great things disappear into the abyss due to inadequate marketing.
I just like that I’m here to watch and see what happens.