Spent this past weekend at RubyFringe, and got my head blown in a few ways. Specifically, there’s some stuff that the guys are doing at the low end, some stuff guys are doing at the high end, and some just plain awesome shit (giles’ presentation was especially awesome. 300+ slides in 30 minutes. Any punk album would be proud). What they all had in common, though, was a driving freight train of a developer who was possessed of a few common qualities:

  1. all misfits, at least from an employment point of view
  2. all smart as shit
  3. all had a great understanding of context, as well as content

Now, it may well be that those points are inter-related, but my focus today is on the last of them. I’ve met far too many people that are wonderfully talented at content, but not context (in other words, they may have horrendous communication skills or have no understanding the world ‘out there’, but can code like Barbarella can…, uh, you know…. hey! look! movies!). Those people are dangerous because they’ll go down the rabbit hole every time with no hesitation. On the other hand, I’ve also had too many run-ins with people that have context but no content (in a previous world, they were known as used car salesmen. Now I think we know them as consultants). They’re dangerous because they have a disturbing tendency of selling you up the river. Both should be considered dangerous, and are to be avoided.

The real all-stars are those that live on the edges in most other ways (skill, dedication, smarts, etc), but who live in the middle of this particular dichotomy. It’s strange sometimes, how the edge rewards people in some cases, yet punishes in others.