Jul 24, 2023 | gga

The 10x Developer and Generation Gaps

Justin Searls’ article about The Demise of the 10x Developer is great. Honestly, that’s partly because I feel very seen. But also, because this generation gap feels real.

I remember when I first realised it existed. My time at uni overlapped the original dot com boom. I was in my last year at it’s height. One of our lecturers said something like “We’re teaching first year differently now as we’re getting people coming into computer science because someone in their family told them that they might be able to make some money in it.”†

Straddling that boundary has meant I’ve always been aware of different motivations. Thank you, Justin, for putting a label on it!

But it also highlights that we (as a profession) have been grappling with how to teach programming for a long time. What matters? What does it mean to be a ‘good’ programmer?

Cards on the table:

  • I never liked the crafter movement. I felt it treated programming skill as something ineffable that could only be reached through becoming one with the code. No: any skill should have a clear model of good and bad with appropriate contexts.

  • I am conflicted over 10x. I believe it’s possible for individuals to be super producers. I also believe that that can be an individual contribution, and doesn’t require toxicity for a team. I’ve worked with people like that. I know them. However, that is not how the term is typically used, so I eschew it and will argue against the typical meaning.

  • I’m passionate about building things with code. I love it. I love a challenge. I love a chance to have a genuine go at solving those rare problems that are actually hard to solve in code‡. I personally struggle to understand engineers who don’t feel that same excitement. That is my personal battle, however, and not one to force others to face.

† This is a recollection from over 20 years ago. I can’t remember the exact words, but I can remember that the lecturers sentiment was not negative or derisory. They were genuinely wondering about the conundrum.

‡ If you are interested in solving tough problems (fixed point maths, garbage collectors, compilers, etc.) then get in touch! Those are problems I have right now.


Gain early access

Complete our brief survey to gain access to our beta launch and secure a discounted "Founder" price for life. Your feedback will help shape the future of Pandita and influence future product features.

Gain access