This article is self explanatory and of course it is interesting that crafty technical capability essentially allows unbounded people to politely walk around the traditional system. That is interesting and for the most part newsworthy but what I found more interesting was the conversation concerning this young developers connection or lack of connection with the end user.
The idea that developers are disconnected is not new but the areas of work including changes in project management historically aren’t enough to remedy this gap. When someone has a great idea or great talent and they create something new and very usable the area of issue comes from what happens next. An example of this could be Myspace, they had a great idea, it technically was similar in a lot of ways to Facebook and they had a great deal of followers. What happened? I am not answering, I am asking.
I have worked as an Integrator long enough to know that for developers it is hard to see past their code. I think software is like usable art, tech poetry or something like a story in practice. The thing about this article that struck me was that this kid had a hard time seeing past what was cool to him and practical to others. I think that this is a problem for a lot of developers (not all).
There is a connection here for me as well to service oriented architectures. If you look at the work of industry leaders like Thomas Erl there is a heavy focus on SOA leaning towards the developer. Even as I have worked in the industry most people working in the services area have grown up developer and moved onto service architectures. What is lost here is identifying and solving the real problem. Facebook identified a need or a want and solved it. Myspace identified a need or a want and solved it, even though it didn’t hold onto the market. All of this leads back to the users, what they want, what they need. Apple’s Ipad is only good because it does what people want at the right price point. Steve Jobs (like him or not) must find ways to stay close to the user community.
20 years ago everyone on the planet didn’t need a cell phone or cable, yet today these things are part of daily life and we pay a hefty price for them. It is identifying the needs and wants then making these things part of daily life that makes them ultimately successful. It is pretty hard to do that if the only person that thinks your idea is cool is you (as the developer).
This young man for certain has a great future, maybe he figured out early that it is the global perspective that is most important, I hope that other developers 19 or 90 figure that out as well.