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Haxors and suits: 10 Tips for bridging the gap

"There is a Great Divide in the realm of information technology. I'm not talking about Windows versus Linux or Java versus .NET-no, nothing like that. The gap I'm referring to is between software developers and the people who manage them - what I call hackers and suits.

Let's clarify one thing first: The word hacker is used in at least three senses. There is the Hollywood sense of a kind of "digital burglar" (more properly called a cracker); there is the sense of a person who throws software together quickly and without skill or caution; and finally there is the "true" sense of the word: a craftsman who is a master at what he does, knowledgeable and capable.

It's the third sense I'm concerned with here. If you're unfamiliar with this usage, refer to the Jargon File or even better, read Paul Graham's excellent essay "Hackers and Painters."

And what is a "suit"? Well, if you don't know what one is, you might be one. The term is common (though not universal) slang for a manager - deriving, of course, from the contrast in dress code. In many or most firms, developers are permitted to dress casually. Managers tend to wear suits - in some cases even appearing to like wearing them - and this sometimes puts developers on their guard.

This article has been difficult to write; it is not dispassionate or unbiased. I am a senior developer with no management background, which places me firmly in one camp. But honesty compels me to admit that neither side is wholly right or wholly wrong in its attitudes. There are certainly things that hackers can learn from suits, and vice versa. The gap can be bridged - has to be bridged - if a department is to run smoothly."

Article Link: http://www.itworld.com/Career/2009/071022hackerssuits/


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