Last week, I came across a few articles written over at Lispy.Wordpress.com. The first article was titled “Do you know any programmers that exibit these personality traits…?”
I’ve been observing an unusual programmer friend of mine for some time now. He has such a strange combination of potential and incompetence that its hard to tell if he is just lazy or if he has a “light” form of autism or some other disorder.
He goes on to list several dozen traits for his “friend”. A couple days later, he follows up that article with one called “How to Get the Most Out of Your Eccentric Programming/Genius.” Here he makes a few more observations:
They will pick up a rare set of skills on their own just for the fun of it– skills that aren’t or can’t be taught in schools. They aren’t attracted to the field of computing because of the money (though that doesn’t hurt) but are terrified of getting stuck in a job where there’s nothing left to learn. People in other careers speak of a “seven year itch” phenomenon, but these guys have a “two year itch.” These guys will change jobs not so much to get a raise… but to keep from getting bored.
The next day he followed up that post with one titled “Hey… You forgot to tell us how to get the most out of this guy!”
To get the most out of your nutty self-obsessed right-brained wanna-be mega-geek: let him solve problems his own way. Let him develop tools/abstractions that help him hide the sort of details and menial tasks that sap his strength. Force him to get up and go exercise or relax. Don’t hold a nebulous unfinishable to-do list over his head to guilt trip him– he will come down off of his creative high and beat himself up for being irresponsible and may even shut down emotionally.
Overall, the three articles are pretty lengthy with tons of comments. I don’t think that the general information presented here could apply to any particular person, since he is talking about a single person and at some parts he generalizes and assumes quite a bit. It’s still an interesting read for anyone.