Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Visibility, Alpha Geeks


Who are the alpha geeks out there? According to many, there are none outside of Microsoft using Microsoft tools. Ergo, I must be excluded unless my night sessions with perl in Komodo somehow grant me reprieve... very doubtful... but rather than bristle and come up with examples of people who are accomplished and effective while not being on Microsoft's payroll I'm prompted on a different question: how do we define "alpha geek" especially in a world where so many of us don't know if we're good or not?

I'll answer in the negative because the blogosphere seems to taint judgement in one respect: visibility. There are quite a few people who maintain a loud profile and acquire a status as "expert" and yet when you look more closely at the body of work it doesn't reconcile itself with the status their profile seems to afford them.

I respect people like Hanselman, Haack, Moise, Atwood, JLam, and so on - they seem to have jobs I can empathize with and still find time to be the large sounding boards online. Banking software is involved, complicated stuff, and not only that, it's the type of software that I write. When I compare the design goals of something like NStatic or RubyCLR to pretty web CRUD, I find myself with more respect for the former.

But these are people we all know because they are in our aggregators. They are good but for every one there are many silently effective "alpha geeks" that don't prioritize a web presence. Think game developers here... more specifically think of someone like John Carmack - not necessarily a Microsoft developer but neither a well dressed Web 2.0 pundit. These are people living a little lower level, cranking out stuff even as the blogosphere distends itself with opinions like my own.

So I keep going back to that wariness of visibility. For all the fashion against Microsoft, what makes or breaks my impressions are the body of work that accompanies the comments.



Glucose said...

"silently effective "alpha geeks" that don't prioritize a web presence."

Well said, I like that. Silently effective. There's at least a dozen at my company who rock, but aren't loud about it.

John Lam said...

So true. Simply having a blog does not make you an alpha geek by any stretch. I recently met some senior folks around Microsoft at a little get together and I was by far the dumbest guy in that room. And I don't think that any of those guys had a blog or cared.

Haacked said...

Well said. Interestingly enough, I used John Carmack as an example too.

Being a visible blogger just means you can write. Well, it might not even mean that. It means you can either write, or game the system. ;)

I wouldn't put myself anywhere near Carmack's league.