[thelist] web designers unique? (was: Filling up timesheets - good or bad?)

H. G. Quinn hgquinn at attglobal.net
Sat Jan 13 17:05:31 CST 2001

Perhaps we are a different breed.

I'd say the perception is based on internal recognition of a reality, of a
"critical mass" of strong, independent, highly-intellegent and -motivated, and
creative people in the industry, a higher percentage than in most other
industries.  In addition, maybe many web developers have other unique qualities
in high percentages.

Web deveopment is one of the few industries where it's considered _normal_ to put
in odd/long hours, where most of the participants really love their work, and
where flexible approaches to deadlines and problems (meaning the workers have to
stretch or bend!) are standard.

In the vast majority of industries, it's only the people at the top who have/show
these qualities, and they are highly compensated.  The zillions who work at lower
levels often have very structured rules and schedules to live by.

The television and film industries, which are similar to the web industry to some
degree, are forced to treat their creatives and technicians fairly, as a result
of the professional unions many of their staff belong to.

Advertising, music and fashion are similar to the web as well, but don't offer
protection to non-management staff (except for technicians in the music industry
and some apparel industry unions), and are notorious for "using up", using and
underpaying their staff, including creatives.

Look at engineers and traditional creative workers.  There's a cultural
resistance to limitations in both classes of people, though engineers are
probably considerably more comfortable with structure.  Web developers often have
qualities of both groups.

In addition, it may be that there's a higher concentration of iconclasts in web
development.  What's the percentage of "self starters" in this group?  High, I'd
guess.  How many people just fell in love with the web and moved themselves
forward into the field over the past 8 years?  Does your average human move
mountains to position (or reposition) themselves to do work they have
"discovered" and love?  Not often, I think (percentage-wise, that is).

There's still a lot of passion in web developers.  There's a sense of freedom,
power and control because they've taken hold of their professional lives in a
somewhat unique way.  Not surprising that there's sometimes chafing at fitting
into standard business practices, like time-keeping, that seem to smack of the
(to them) dead-and-buried world of the last century.

Putting business measurement practices (time-keeping, good accounting, audits,
etc.) into place is the _only_ way to take a fomenting new industry successfully
into maturity, but since these practices are associated with old-timey boring
work, and since they force people to look at themselves a bit (you know, pop out
of "I-me-I'm the best" mode), they may be threatening to many.

So the best way for management to deal with people who rebel at time-keeping
might be to empower them by showing them, very concretely, the benefits of
putting in their time.  Few people will resist something that benefits
themselves.  This approach allows people to buy in to the effort being made to
make a good company work.  We all know that usabilities studies show the high
value people place on opting in.  Take a bit more time for management in the
beginning, but it seems to me it would create a culture of acceptance and trust
of management practices that would result in _less_ effort over the long term.

"Warden, Matt" wrote:

> > > > i'm still trying to understand why so many of us, and others, think
> > > > we are a different breed...
> > >
> > > Could it have something to do with the type of hours we put in? I often
> work
> > > from like 4pm to 2am, sleep, wake up at 1pm next day, work 4pm to 2am,
> > > sleep...
> >
> > but that's not unique to this industry... hell, it's not even necessary
> > for this industry...
> I'm not saying that i agree with the stereotype, but the image that the media
> seems to paint of developers is shut alone in an office for hours drinking
> coffee at 3am while writing code.
> I was just suggesting that, since we are talking about the "web ninja" name
> created by the media, that this might have been where it came from.
> --
> mattwarden
> mattwarden.com
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Heather Quinn
hgquinn at attglobal.net

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