Men are from Mars…

I have to admit that even I was surprised at the reaction to my recent blog describing a day in the life of a Web Developer. Our social media channels are still buzzing – so much so that at one point, one of the internet pipes into Siteset Towers melted and we had to call in the plumber.

Aside from copious enquiries from TV producers, the bulk of the tweets, posts and emails have been from people eager to get closer to understanding the enigma of the Web Developer. Here are answers to a few of your common questions:

Q: You sound great. Can you build a web site for our business?
A: No. We can do much, much more than that! Have a browse around our site if you haven’t already.

Q: May I have your autograph?
A: Yes, of course.

Q: May I have a lock of your hair?
A: Unfortunately no, not anymore.

Q: How did you get to become so talented/popular/successful/fantastic…?
A: Well, that’s a long story.

One might suspect that a creature as dedicated, skilled and Rock-God-like as a Web Developer could only have been assembled in some kind of high-tech laboratory. This was indeed true of the early web pioneers (a bunker just outside Clacton, I believe) but the days of single-minded automatons churning out code with ruthless efficiency at all hours, with no need or desire for human interaction, are long gone.

These days, the typical Web Developer is a single-minded automaton churning out code with ruthless efficiency at all hours, except when he’s doing volunteer work, taking his wife out for romantic dinners or entertaining strangers at parties with humorous tales from life in the coding lane.

We typically start our lives in much the same way as ordinary humans do. As young children we build intricate Lego towers just like everyone else – using the overlapping brick technique for maximum stability, of course.

At school we like maths and science, granted, but we’re equally comfortable helping the less fortunate with their homework, captaining several school sports teams and even at that age, raising money for local charities. When it comes to deciding a career path we have as many options as normal folk, but by then our brain circuits have already been irrevocably programmed to program.

You may be wondering, perhaps because you suspect your own child to be gifted, if it’s possible to spot a potential Web Developer during their early years. There are ways.

The first step is to determine your child’s gender. A recent 1.6 billion Euro, EU funded, research project concluded that boys are far more likely to end up as Web Developers than girls. However, this isn’t the end of all hope for you if you have a daughter, since female Web Developers can and do exist – I’ve met both of them and they’re every bit as good as their male colleagues.

Next, borrow some of your son’s (or daughter’s) Lego bricks and build a tower, paying no attention to the colours used. Yes, it sounds crazy, but just connect the bricks randomly without applying consistent, logical colour placement.

Now watch your son (or daughter).

If he (or she) feels compelled to re-build your structure so that each row is composed of identically coloured bricks (or two colours alternating) then congratulations! There is a strong possibility that your son (or daughter) will become a Web Developer.

A word of warning: at this point you will feel a sense of overwhelming pride and may even weep a little. The feeling is unlikely to pass, but you will get used to it with time.

Lego is important. From the age of 10, a potential Web Developer should be able to analyse and explain any complex, real-life, scenario using an analogy built from Lego:
Parent: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Gifted child: “Please observe this simple Lego model…”

Proto-Web Developers are also appallingly bad at foreign languages. My wife (sorry, ladies) struggles to understand how someone so adept at using a programming language cannot apply the same ‘brainy bits’ (her words) to mastering say, Serbo-Croatian or Welsh. The truth is that programming languages have a logical beauty that the standard spoken or written word cannot hope to replicate.

No Web Developer can love something that insists on applying gender to inanimate objects or that contains semantic rules that have so many exceptions they can only be ‘understood’ through rote.

But show us the following:
10 $count=1
20 print “Hello world!”
30 $count=$count+1
40 if $count<100 goto 20
And we find it hard to contain our excitement.

What of our human side? It’s come a long way, for the above example would once have been:
10 $count=1
20 print $count
30 $count=$count+1
40 if $count<100 goto 20

I think you’ll agree, that just about says it all.

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