How Software Companies Die

Since there are not enough hours in each day to keep up with all of the technical reading I want to do, I had essentially stopped reading fiction. But recently I started listening to audiobooks as I drive back and forth to work. Its a great way to “read” all that fiction that I’ve been missing.

Science fiction has always been my favorite, and I recently finished Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This was a great book and since its the first of a seven book series (soon to be eight), I’m looking forward to “reading” the rest of them.

Well, quite by accident, I just stumbled across a short essay that Orson Scott Card wrote in 1995 titled How Software Companies Die. Its speaks the essential truth about programmers and management in a very funny way. Here’s the first paragraph:

    The environment that nurtures creative programmers kills management and marketing types – and vice versa. Programming is the Great Game. It consumes you, body and soul. When you’re caught up in it, nothing else matters. When you emerge into daylight, you might well discover that you’re a hundred pounds overweight, your underwear is older than the average first grader, and judging from the number of pizza boxes lying around, it must be spring already. But you don’t care, because your program runs, and the code is fast and clever and tight. You won. You’re aware that some people think you’re a nerd. So what? They’re not players. They’ve never jousted with Windows or gone hand to hand with DOS. To them C++ is a decent grade, almost a B – not a language. They barely exist. Like soldiers or artists, you don’t care about the opinions of civilians. You’re building something intricate and fine. They’ll never understand it.

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