9 Comments
Jun 1Liked by Thorsten Ball

I found it much more funny how you described it in the tuple podcast (paraphrasing here because it had been a few weeks): "it's not like someone is knocking at your office door and says hey man we went through your commit history and we are all very impressed so we figured you deserve a raise" 😂

Expand full comment
author

Ha! Good find. I remembered that I mentioned it on there, but I forgot how I tried to paraphrase it :)

Expand full comment

Thanks for putting this out there. It's a nice reminder that _putting the work out there_, i.e. making it findable, is _part of the work_.

The connection here to _Comedians_ is gravy. Alec Baldwin riffing with Jerry Seinfeld is one of the truly delightful things in life.

Expand full comment
Jun 1·edited Jun 1

I am still trying to make up my mind on this topic.

The problem with this advice is that it is mostly given by successful loud people ( in the sense of writing/publishing a lot ) who want to help others succeed in the same way they did ( by being loud ). So it is given loudly and frequently. This fits the examples you provided.

Not sure that a lot of first rate engineers spend their time writing, self promoting, etc. They still reach good positions due to some signaling mechanism ( like getting a PHD or relevant experience ). I don't think that there a lot of findable first rate engineers (not managers/PR people) at Nvidia, Apple, etc . Yet they are first rate and successful. And most findable people are not first rate since they spent their time being findable instead of trying to get better/produce first rate work in their respective field.

I remember that it was hard finding any details about the author of LuaJIT even tho he managed to create a successful open source project.

"It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find himself writing about mathematics. The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done. Statesmen despise publicists, painters despise art-critics, and physiologists, physicists, or mathematicians have usually similar feelings: there is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds." - A Mathematician’s Apology, G. H. Hardy.

Like I said, still making up my mind :D

Expand full comment
author

Also:

"I remember that it was hard finding any details about the author of LuaJIT even tho he managed to create a successful open source project."

You did find LuaJIT though, didn't you? :)

Expand full comment
author
Jun 2·edited Jun 2Author

I hear you. In a longer, first draft of this post I included a paragraph about this exact same thing:

This advice is not purely about "creators", or people with blogs, YouTube channels, social media presence, etc. From what I've seen in my career, the advice also applies to working at a company:

I'd argue that the "first rate engineers (not managers/PR people) at Nvidia, Apple, etc" very likely do self-promotion — at work. That's exactly the point I was making: you can't just silently work in your cubicle, pushing code and telling no one about it. You have to make it findable, otherwise your manager or your manager's manager won't even know what you did — they very likely aren't combing through every person's commit history, trying to find diamonds of brilliance, hoping to shout "look what genius work I just discovered!"

And that does *not* mean to spent a large portion of your time on "self-promotion". It just means making sure that your work is findable and that others know about it: posting a link somewhere, letting your manager know, making sure the tickets are ticked off correctly, etc.

I also think that this point here — "And most findable people are not first rate since they spent their time being findable instead of trying to get better/produce first rate work in their respective field." — is answered by the Austin Kleon quote I put in at the end: you can spend your time getting better and also share your work. It honestly doesn't take long. It might take some practice, sure, but I've recorded internal demos of what I built in 10min, after working on something for a week. I then posted the demo in the internal Slack, letting others know what I built, how it works, why I built it, how they can use it, etc. etc. 10min to make sure what I did was findable vs. spending a week building it.

Expand full comment

Makes sense, I think I misunderstood what you meant by "findable". Thanks for clarifying.

Expand full comment

I'd be interested in how you think you initially became findable. Was it on purpose?

To me, I kept hearing that Thorsten had written very accessible books on writing programming languages. Then I started hearing you on podcasts. Now it feels like you are a very well known (easily found) programmer.

Great post as always

Expand full comment
author

I wrote blog posts, then published two books in 2 years, then wrote about related topics, & kept tweeting. When I published the first book, I think I had 300 followers? So... I dunno? Putting myself out there continously?

Expand full comment