Chris Baus laments that developers are rarely impressed by other developers. It’s often true. But why are developers hard to (outwardly) impress?

For many of us, we base our identity on being special in a particular way: that we can see meaning in things that others find to be gibberish, like, say, computer code or big piles of raw data.

It is a direct tweak to our pleasure center when we have insights that others don’t. Being among normals, with their normal social skills, is often boring or intimidating. Our specialness derives from having something that most people don’t. It’s not surprising that this part of our identity comes to be disproportionate.

When we see good work by another developer, the specialness seems to evaporate. I know I feel it. But this egocentrism — nerd macho, if you will — is a path to joylessness.

Fascination and intimidation are two sides of the same coin: the feeling we get when we look at a piece of work and think, I don’t know how you did that.

We live in a time of highly available fascination/intimidation. Just over the last few months, these things have given my brain a lot to chew on:

  • Go’s type system
  • Rails’ new caching
  • Arbitrary languages between <script> tags

Early in my career, ideas that would change my brain came along every two or three years. Now it’s several per year. Fasctimidating.