Here is how I see it:
- People who tweet, blog, speak and open source are considered elites
- Elites are held above the rest of the community, making it unwelcome for others
Or, flipping the question, are people who don’t share their work inherently worse?
No, of course not. Unfortunately, unseen work is just that: unseen. Without external
evidence, there is no way to tell if a developer is good or not, so we assume they
are average. Not better, not worse.
I, too, would like to believe that we live in a meritocracy where good work is
automatically recognized. But how? How do people know what you are doing if you
don’t tell them?
This encourages people to run up a hill and yell on top of their voice. And the
people who are comfortable doing that are rewarded, are seen as R20;better”.
However, this is not automatically lead to elite worship. Yes, there will always
be some people who are more visible in the community. But that does not mean it
has to be a small group who are revered above all else.
When you see good work, point it out
One problem of elite worship is that we ended up comparing ourselves with people
with more Twitter followers, more mentions in the industry newsletter, more conference
talks etc and feel defeated. We can counter that by pointing out the good work
we see that is not enshrined on the internet.
Here is a concrete thing you can do: When you do a code review, don’t just point
out the things to fix. Remark on the good parts as well.
When something takes longer than expected, write it down
We need more voices in our community. Blogging is great, because there is no
gatekeeper to decide who gets to publish and who doesn’t. But there is still
one hurdle: What to write about?
Pay attention to what you do day to day. If you spent more time figuring out how to do
something than you thought you would, it is worth writing down.
Don’t worry about looking stupid because others must know how to do it already.
You don’t have to push the boundaries of human knowledge. That’s PhD theses, not
Think of it as notes to your future self, a place to put codes and commands in
monospace font so you can come back in 3 months to copy and paste them.
Just because some people share more doesn’t mean there is no place for you to do
it. Everyone has a different experience, and we want to hear from you.
Speak at local meetups
In the original article, the author laments that there is no diversity at
conferences. Always the same faces, always the same topics. As a conference
organizer, I can tell you that speaker selection is hard. There were so many
people that very much deserved a speaking slot but didn’t get one, because we
had a very limited number. You can read more
about how we try to have a balanced speaker roster at 360|AnDev.
That said, we don’t have to let conferences be the only place where technical
talks are given. There are numerous meetups happening all over the world on
any given week. And they are always, always looking for speakers. Sure, it does
not come with the prestige of conference speaking, but does that make them
If you think the local audience is too small to worth your time, record your talk and
post it on the internet. I wrote a guide on
how to record your screen and voice with QuickTime. Would love it if someone write one for Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)!
Give talks yourself, and encourage those around you to do it. That is how we get
new voices. Don’t let the conference speaking circuit dictate who gets to speak and who doesn’t.
People are lazy. If we see the same name over and over, we think that person
must know something. This is fundamentally what leads to elite worship. We can’t
change human nature, but we can spread the love. Point out each other’s good work,
encourage each other to make it visible. Make the elite circle so large that it
is no longer elite.