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Why I Like Story-Tellers As Programmers

May 3, 2010

I’ve toyed with the idea of blogging off and on, but, thanks to a mention in Brad Feld’s blog “Feld Thoughts” and the comments I have received, I think I’ll add my voice to the ruckus, if not the chorus.

And what better way to dive in than to think a bit about storytelling and programming? Isn’t that what everyone is thinking about?

I can’t really relate to Brad’s thoughts and some of the great ideas put forth in the comments in one post. From what I can see there are three themes there: why teaching programming to kids is important, on tinkering, and the one I’ll deal with today, and what really started it off – story-telling.

First off, an admission. I’m not a programmer. I can program, which is also like saying I can drive a car (when compared to Michael Schumacher). But I get how software is put together. And software is a story, sometimes told to people, sometimes told to hardware, and often both. Sometimes it’s told by one person, and often by several.

Part of my job at StartUps, Inc. (shameless plug!) is to build companies. No question, the most important thing at this stage is to hire the best and the right people! A resume will only tell me what you’ve done, but not how you do it. So I decided to test people not on their syntax, but on their thinking. I would throw out a random situation and then have the interviewees spend the next half-hour or so writing about it. I looked for their ability to fill in the gaps, to be creative, and to express their personalities, but also their ability to follow instructions.

Sorry, Mr. Vogelsang, not a Hemmingway in the bunch. Or an Asimov.

I can see that there is a lot more to this topic, but I’ll stop here for today.

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2 comments

  1. [...] makes the best programmers, and I like people who can tell a story, for all the reasons mentioned here and by [...]


  2. [...] in detail. She translates the vision into something saleable and relevant in the short term. (Over here I was talking about a different kind of story [...]



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