Most human societies have rituals. One popular ceremony is of the young person being made a member of the tribe. For some, it is at the start of life – a Baptism or Christening. For others, it is when the child becomes an adult – Bar Mitzvah or Ritusuddhi. Most societies have marriage ceremonies – to mark the transition into a new stage of life.
Houses are blessed, leaving for university requires a party, graduates get a silly gown and certificate. Finally, Death demands a wake.
Rituals are powerful and a seemingly ubiquitous part of human life. So why don’t we have them for developers?
The first program you write will, inevitably, spew out “Hello, World!” – that seems to be the last time we consciously engage in ritual performance.
When I returned to my old secondary school, I saw a huge wooden board filled with names of former head-boys and -girls. Nestled amongst them was my old mate Richard. An unbroken line of upstanding young people, from before the war to the present day.
Head Boy and Head Girl – milestones so important that they were carved into wood and put on display.
The military awards medals, and there is a clear hierarchy of ranks through which one can progress.
Academics get recognition and prizes and tenure.
An apprentice becomes a journeyman becomes a master.
Part of the problem is that computer science is a young discipline. We don’t have hundreds of years of august bodies and a good understanding of how people progress.
So, here are my questions to you. What are the milestones that every developer should pass? How should we mark them? Should we mark them? Is it helpful to show exactly where a computerist is on their journey?
Here are a few lazy suggestions. Feel free to add your own.
— vkmc (@vkmc) April 29, 2016
Feels a bit like it is appropriating the military’s culture.
I love the idea of the OpenStack Community Awards. But deciding who gets an award is fraught with bias.
Projects like the Faces of Open Source seek to create a permanent memorial of those who do good. But it falls into the same problem as other awards – who chooses?
I gave kids certificates, and they bloody loved them.
I was amazed by how happy the kids were to receive certificates.
Such a pleasant rite of passage. https://t.co/nMzeleMchL
— Terence Eden (@edent) April 3, 2017
The hacker mentality seems to eschew formal qualifications. And, to be fair, many are just pay-to-play, or exercises in gatekeeping.
Is this necessary?
It isn’t necessary – but there’s constant undercurrent of who is – and isn’t – a “real” developer. People get beleaguered with imposter syndrome because there are no real metrics to judge themselves against. We have no way of celebrating achievement – and no way to welcome people into our tribe.
And a part of me finds that a little sad.