Charles Darwin's Assessment Of Application Developers

Charlesdarwin This month marks Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. His classic work, The Origin Of Species, wasn’t much of a hit when it was originally published back in 1859 but no one can argue that the idea of evolution hasn’t changed the world. Survival of the fittest is an elegant explanation of why so many species exist, why some become extinct, and why some flourish. So, what would Charles Darwin have to say about the species that are so affectionately known as application development professionals? Hmmm.

Observed in their natural habitat, application development professionals seem to be doing quite well. They are a hearty lot, who have made themselves indispensible in a world that is driven by an ever increasing demand for technology. As long as developers continue to write billions of lines of code, they are not going the way of the dinosaurs or the buggy whip manufacturers anytime soon. What is the secret to their success? Charles Darwin himself has the answer:

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change”

Please don’t misinterpret. It is not that app dev pros aren’t strong and intelligent. They are. But, above all else application development professionals are responsive to change. If you are not an app dev pro, stop snickering. You are probably thinking that developers are slow to change. Well consider this: in the last 30 years we have gone from practically zero applications to an uncountable number and growing. Application developers have used dozens of different programming languages and written applications for almost every purpose known to humanity – all in response to the world around them. And, all this happened in a short 30 year time span.

It is this breakneck responsiveness to change, this adaptability, that makes application development professionals indispensible and inveterate survivors.

Mike Gualtieri

Senior Analyst


re: Charles Darwin's Assessment Of Application Developers

Mike, interesting that you link Darwin and IT here. I do the same in my upcoming book 'Context'. I know you treat this more like a play on words but I should still point out that 'developers' are not a species. While their behavior is somewhat similar (wanting to be individuals and hating each others code) I do not see them evolving as a cohesive social group like a species does according to Darwin.Yes, developers are very adaptable and want to continuously jump onto the next technology bandwagon. But they should be aware that evolution is not something that a species can do on its own. It should actually be termed co-evolution because if there is no one who wants to use the code developers write than they will be extinct pretty soon. However, most of the code is sold today by the use of expensive marketing illusions. In a corporate sense that is at least true. What you are being sold is not what you buy as a corporate user. So developers don't adapt. They do what they are being told.Maybe the iPhone AppStore will change the way developers interact with the world. Then they might truly co-evolve ...

re: Charles Darwin's Assessment Of Application Developers

Hi Max, I agree with you that many, but not all, enterprise IT technologies and applications ar sold using "expensive marketing illusions" (I really like this term). The question I have: Does Enterprise IT want to buy illusions? My quick answer is yes because they have been doing it for years. If so, then why?