I haven’t met many software people who followed fashion, in fact many of them despise it. So several times I’ve heard why: fashion is so superficial and dealing with such shallow things that is not the thing for a geek spending hours in front of the computer trying to optimize loading data from the database with the new and cool ORM, or trying to figure out how to fix a security vulnerability in an Internet Banking application.
I’m not so sure this is right, not even sure it’s a good idea to think this way. Because building software is much like fashion design.
What? No way!
Adopting a great clothing style creates a wonderful image of yourself in the eyes of the others. No need to tell anyone how important is to dress up for the occasion, but let’s try to figure out what’s really going on.
Dressing up, having a nice style as well as being in fashion has a big impact on the people you interact with. Remember the seeing is believing saying? Seeing has an insurmountable psychological power on an individual because perceptions are built upon data sent by the senses (and sight is quite important among the others). That’s why people easily believe what they see. For example, it’s been quite hard to accept that the Sun is not actually moving around our planet as it looks like, but the other way around. And humanity accepted that, again, after seeing it using telescopes. What we see is utterly important and hard to ignore even if judgement dictates otherwise. So this may be shallow, but that’s the way we function and going against our nature is not feasible in every circumstance.
Geeks can dress up their software instead
Now it’s true that not many programmers go out much in a sense they need to create a good impression by using the latest and trendiest fashion outfits. So I agree fashion may not always serve them unless they take to a more un-geek career that requires relating with people a lot, managing, selling stuff or something similar. Spending most of your time in front of a computer makes fashion pointless.
However I want to point out that the geekiest of geeks that may live in a basement and spend 99% of their time in front on the computer screen still interacts with the world through the product of his/her work — something we normally call software.
The software product is my social outfit
We build software for users. Sometimes they are corporate employees, sometimes they are homeworkers, single moms or rebel teenagers. But they will almost always judge us by the software we’ve built for them. The same as folks on the street may judge us by our clothes.
Being out of fashion in software may be dramatic as users would part their ways. So what I’m trying to say here is that building software may have a lot more in common with being a fashion designer than we may have previously thought.
Software too is a matter of image.