A little over a month ago, I drove down to Tulsa TechFest with Dru. I think the best part of the whole conference was not the presentations, not the speaking (although I learned new things), but the face time with some of the people. I would have to say that hanging out with the ALT.Net crowd was pretty awesome in and of itself (I didn't get to attend that conference down in Austin because I wasn't speedy enough). Having the chance to hang out and play pool with David Laribee (the Godfather of ALT.Net), Dru, and Raymond Lewallen was definitely a highlight (although we found that Ray is pretty much a pool shark :D).
I would say that the first time I read about ALT.Net was Dru's post on it. At the time I thought, of course, doesn't everyone think like that? To me, someone who is continuously learning, attempting to get better will always fit the bill for ALT.Net. Maybe you're someone who has missed the whole idea of ALT.Net. Or you're a non-technical reader and don't know what all of the fuss is about. Laribee defined the principles well:
What does it mean to be to be ALT.NET? In short it signifies:
- You’re the type of developer who uses what works while keeping an eye out for a better way.
- You reach outside the mainstream to adopt the best of any community: Open Source, Agile, Java, Ruby, etc.
- You’re not content with the status quo. Things can always be better expressed, more elegant and simple, more mutable, higher quality, etc.
- You know tools are great, but they only take you so far. It’s the principles and knowledge that really matter. The best tools are those that embed the knowledge and encourage the principles (e.g. Resharper.)
People should want to be better at what they do, or they should do something else that they enjoy. It's a core principal that I hold. I think you should really enjoy what you are going to do for a living. My high school counselor once told me that I should "find something you would do for free and you will never work a day in your life."
Of course, if everyone took her advice, there may not be very many janitors and factory workers. Although I do know someone that loves mowing lawns and would do that for a living. Now don't get me wrong, there are some people that truly enjoy that kind of work, but they are far and few between. I digress.
People should want to get better at what they do. I look around sometimes and see people that don't enjoy what they are doing. Maybe they have lost that "passion" that they once had or they are just not as satisfied with the work they are doing as they once were due to promotions. Maybe they are disgruntled in their position due to having bad management or too many extrinsic motivators. In fact, I think it is a lot of extrinsic motivation that brings people into the computer industry in the first place. I read somewhere that being a programmer is the number one job in america. Why? Because it is a challenging and rewarding career. It's fun to be able to reinvent yourself and your code and you always know you can approach the same problem with many many solutions (and even more than one could be correct). So the people that are not sure if they will like the work step into position due to money and because they think they will like the job. Sometimes they stay. Sometimes they find other things. Sometimes they find management. Once again, I digress.
Some people think ALT.Net is too divisive. I don't agree with Sam and Colin. I think it is really what you make of it.
My rhetorical question is, if you don't want to get better at what you do or find tools to help you get there faster, then why are you in a job that requires constant learning? And that is why I wonder how any programmer could not be considered ALT.Net?!