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Programmers aren’t a Commodity

On his Knowing and Doing blog, Eugene Wallingford of the University of Northern Iowa makes some nice points about the value of idea PLUS execution:

As I wrote about at greater length in a recent entry, the value of a product comes from the combination of having an idea and executing the idea. Doing the former or having the ability to do the latter aren’t worth much by themselves. You have to put the two together.

Many “idea people” tend to think most or all of the value inheres to having the idea. Programmers are a commodity, pulled off the shelf to clean up the details. It’s just a small matter of programming, right?

On the other side, some programmers tend to think that most or all of the value inheres to executing the idea. But you can’t execute what you don’t have. That’s what makes it possible for me and my buddy to sit around over General Tsao’s chicken and commiserate about lost wealth. It’s not really lost; we were never in its neighborhood. We were missing a vital ingredient. And there is no time machine or other mechanism for turning back the clock.

I still wish that some of the idea people had learned how to program, or were willing to learn, so that they could implement their ideas. Then they, too, could know the superhuman strength of watching ideas become tangible. Learning to program used to be an inevitable consequence of using computers. Sadly, that’s no longer true. The inevitable consequence of using computers these days seems to be interacting with people we may or may not know well andwatching videos.



About Margaret Gold

Margaret is an innovation and business launch specialist in the mobile industry, one of the organisers of Over the Air (the annual mobile developer hack-a-thon event), and the founder of The Mobile Collective.


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