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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Book Review: The Developers

Ellen Spertus came across this book and gave it to me since I was in a slow period, and she claimed that the book was too cynical for her. Since I'm a cynical kind of person, I thought I'd be the perfect target audience for this book.

To my chagrin, I found that the problem wasn't cynicism, but perhaps one of generation gap. I think I must have missed all the cultural references in this book, not being born in this country nor a big watcher of television. But I'm a programmer, right? So the stuff about development should be interesting to me, right?

Unfortunately, the application in question was a city-search type application with lots of UI, and boring bulletin board, chat, and personals application for a small town. It's not even a challenge for undergraduates to build, so it's hard for me to suspend my disbelief and think that an interesting startup could be built around it. The characters themselves were unappealing: most of them seem incredibly obsessed with dating and their sex life. I guess I can believe that in a dot com startup (though I've been at two dot com startups, and it certainly wasn't the case that there was a ton of dating at work) that's staffed mostly with fresh graduates. Then again, the startups I've worked at in Silicon Valley tended to be staffed with experienced people for whom work was their main obsession.

Ultimately, I cannot recommend this book unless you're a hip young developer of the sort depicted in the book. Then again, since I've never been one of those either, even if you were a hip young developer of the sort depicted in the book, my guess is that you wouldn't take book recommendations from an old fogey like me.

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