Software and broken windows

Vagmi Mudumbai

I came across this mail on the ChennaiOCC mailing list. It is from a web design company which needs "PHP Resources". I am sick and tired of people looking for "N X resource(s)", where N is the number of people and the X is the technology. Whenever I see a job ad like this, I get furious. I consider it a personal insult to the hackers working in the industry.

This thinking comes from a flawed assumption that programmers are somehow interchangeable cogs in a system. I used to use the term hackers in my previous job descriptions but I got too many people looking for roles specific to computer security and most of them did not know anything. So I now use the term programmer/developer which gets the point across. However, when I say I am looking for programmers/developers, it means that I am looking for a kick ass hacker who is equally comfortable in coding, testing his code and deploying it on to a server and debug issues with it. You see, a hacker does not write a piece of code to a specification. A hacker creates. It is that creativity that we are looking for which the current education system and companies like these are fighting so hard to kill.

So coming back to this company, I visited their website just for the heck of it. It landed me on a blank page, with their name and a "click here" link. I followed the link and I got assaulted with a flash based image gallery. I then went to their SEO page. Please notice the URL. Would you trust this company with your SEO? I then looked at careers page and found no job openings. The thing is that they have opened the module to add a job opening for any visitor. I do not mean to pick on Mentis. Their website might be a work in progress but it just sounds bad when client or prospective employees visit your site and a lot of this stuff is broken.

We should not forget that Broken Windows Theory applies to software as well. Bad code begets bad development practices and there is no escaping the death spiral.

Posted on 2010-11-23T07:15:08Z by Vagmi Mudumbai Comments
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