Joel On Metaphors: The Best Developers

Don't feel obliged to read on. Really.

While reading Joël Spolsky's guest column at inc. magazine i got hung up on this metaphor in the first paragraph:

"The best developers invent new products, figure out shortcuts that save months of work, and, when there are no shortcuts, plow through coding tasks like a monster truck at a tea party."

I did a triple-take. When I parsed that last part:

"...plow through coding tasks like a monster truck at a tea party."

...I interpreted it in the only sensible literal way possible:

"...plow through coding tasks like a monster truck plows through coding tasks at a tea party."

Which makes me picture a studious monster truck sitting in the corner of a tea party, quietly compiling the answers. Seems an odd thing to do.

What I assume he meant was:

"...plow through coding tasks like a monster truck plows through a tea party."

Which is better, though I've never heard of this actually happening, and i'd say it's something that monster truck drivers are keen to avoid. So maybe the best developers only plow through tasks when their brakes fail, and they've no other course of action left open. But if a monster truck did happen to plow through a tea party -- it would be pretty effective, so i figure a better way to phrase it is the rather cumbersome:

"...plow through coding tasks like, one supposes, a runaway monster truck would plow through a tea party."

But now i wonder... what is the actual similarity here? why are they alike? Does the developer plow through coding tasks, leaving dead bodies and broken tea cups strewn all over the lawn? What kind of programmer are we talking about? Some new form of extreme? You don't want to hire rampaging homicial developers for your team. Or do you?

i've got to stop over-thinking things.

 

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