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Why we all need celebrity programmers

before scott bellware disappeared off the twitter radar, he kept talking about the idea of “celebrity” being the big problem with communities such as ALT.NET, and lately with the Lean and Craftsmanship movements.

I actually think that celebrity is an essential and important driving force for any programming community.

The analogy I can draw is to the drug-creating companies. drugs helps people feel better – they make the world better, actually. but they are not free. in fact some of the most helpful drugs out there are far from easy to purchase, and cost so much money you’d need to sell a house or two to sponsor treatments using them.

That’s not by chance. Drugs need to cost money so that the companies that make them have a good incentive to do the heavy lifting when it comes to researching the creation of new drugs. The fact that drugs cost so much money actually helps drive the creation of new and better drugs to the world.

taken a few notches down, many developers, consultants and trainers out there want to become some sort of vertical celebrity in some field in software. They will work hard to drive and become a specific field where they will be known as someone to go to in that field. They will do the heavy lifting when it comes to researching new and exciting methods to develop software, to use new programming languages and to bring something new to the existing world we live in.

The need for people to stand out in the crowd is a very large driver for change in behavior, practices and whole methodologies.

But what happens when those people get what they wanted? maybe they will just stand still, trying to hold on to the thing they’ve gotten, protecting it from others? No to worry. For each existing celebrity, there exists N unknown future celebrities who also want to stand out. they will be forced to drive through, to push other boundaries than the ones that already exist (since they already have people associated with them) and to drive home a new concept, language, practice, methodology – anything unique that can make waves in the community, and by chance also get their names up in print somewhere in the future.

It’s free market, and trying to throw rocks at those who’ve already achieved this is as useless as telling drug companies to lower their prices. Don’t worry – there’s always another company out there with the next big cure for something – the existing companies cannot hold back progress-  since it’s ingrained in people.

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