RANT : The Rogue Programmer : Zerro Below

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Return of the Rogue Programmer:

In the 1970s, 1980s, and early in the 1990s it was common to see great works of software from time to time. Almost always these great ground breaking works were written by a lone programmer at home, working rogue as it were. Then the day of the rogue programmer came to an end, and almost all software was just incremental changes of the same (often just adding bling without real function, making bloat). Over the last decade we have slowly seen the return of the Rogue Programmer, the lone software engineer, almost always self trained, trying to create something the they feel is useful. The rogue or lone programmer is the single best thing for usable computing, as they create the groundbreaking things. Even in otherwise company projects there were sometimes rogue coders (often working from home, usually ignoring any schedules and plans), this is noticeable when something groundbreaking came about.

When everyone is following the rules there is no innovation, when someone goes rogue they can do things that are outside the lines. Rogue is where the fun really is. It is often that lone programmers will create groundbreaking concepts that improve the world of computing for everyone in the future. If it were not for these kinds of thinkers we would still be using much less capable Operating Systems than we do, we would have never reached beyond one instruction per clock, etc, etc.

Yet we still see people speak of programming as if it is a commercial enterprise only done at companies established. Why is this when the best software we use on any system is created by the Rogues?

There are groups of rogues that come together to supplement each others strengths, though they stay rogue. The influence of you have to do this in this time stays away from them so they can create in complete freedom. These are the people that love the enjoyment of redoing large parts of a project to make it better, these people are not stuck on the idea of 'I already had it working, why restart', instead they see the view of 'I can make it much better if I rewrite all this, and it will be fun to learn as I go'. These are the programmers we need more of. We have too many corporate thinking programmers already, we need the lone rogue thinkers.

AmigaOS was originally created by two rogue programmers (and the Hardware by other rogues). The innovative parts of the Macintosh System Software (QuickDraw Regions and Resources) were created by three rouge programmers. Yes Amiga OS ended up with a small part of the system coming from TripOS, though the innovative Exec and Intuition were the more important parts of what made the Amiga great.

When you have programmers that just do what the project requires, and are not interested in being the best possible, then you end up with things like NeXTSTEP (which was just another Unix Like OS with yet another PostScript graphics based Windowing System, boring). Or other similar things that are just another variant of everything else with different bling and no real innovation. When these kind of boring thinkers get involved in standards you end up adding bloat beyond need or reason to standards, like is the case with C11, HTM5, and others.

So it is the Rogue Programmer that we want, we want the person that enjoys the act of creation and improvement. The boring thinkers that only know how to do the same old thing another way can stay in there boring jobs letting there minds rot from lack of innovative thinking. And do to the fact that it is the rogues that recognize the good in what is out there, that the rogues tend to be drawn to the positively innovative systems (like Classic Macintosh System Software and Amiga OS).

EXAMPLES: Some examples of good programs, Systems, and such created by rogue programmers include:

Of course every new Rouge programmer has more advantages than those before them. This do to the increasing amount of knowledge provided by those to come before, making it easier to accomplish greater and greater tasks.

NOT JUST PROGRAMMERS: While this has been framed from the programmers view, it also applies to other creative arts using Computers. It is the Rogue artists, 3D Modelers, Sound Smiths (Aural Artists), Rapid Prototypers, etc that bring the great innovations to there fields.



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