Are coders worth it?

James Somers just published a fantastic piece over on Aeon Magazine. In it, he brings the question of virtue versus value home to the “startup community”.

The article, “Are coders worth it?”, is a great read. In it, he questions a “startup” industry that he sees as narcissistically arrogant, yet struggling to reach anything beyond the superficial.

A lot of the stuff going on just isn’t very ambitious… [t]hey keep tossing out products that look pretty much like what you’d get if you took a homogenous group of young guys in any other endeavour: Cheap, fun, and about as worldchanging as creating a new variation on beer pong.

The cause? Cashed-up investors willing to risk a dollar or two (or a few hundred thousand) on the misses in order to hit a home run. The money, in turn, has led a clamour for talent (see HubSpot’s recent $30,000 referral offer for a particularly egregious example).

Rivers of cash plus legions of desperate coddling employers equals a world in which it must be hard for any 20-something that’s ever composed an Excel formula not to feel like a king or queen in a brave new world.

You can imagine what it does to the ego, to be courted and called “indispensable” and in general treated like you’re the one pretty girl for miles.

When Somers brings us back to reality (“Most of what we’re doing, in fact, is putting boxes on a page”), it’s a refreshing reminder to keep the significance and social utility of our work in perspective – and perhaps, to seek out opportunities to move past the frivolous towards the substantial.

Read the full article here.