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Part II: Cowboys and Cowgirls

Part II: Cowboys and Cowgirls

Introduction

One of the great things about doing a column in a computer magazine is that readers respond by electronic mail, creating a lively immediacy in the relationship between reader and writer. Over the years, Peopleware has generated a steady exchange with an intelligent and interested readership who frequently and repeatedly get excited or incensed enough to inquire or comment. I have come to look at reading the regular e-mail (and irregular snailmail) as a part of writing the column.

I was totally unprepared, however, for the deluge triggered by my first column on “coding cowboys.” In fact, that column and its successor broke records for reader response. Suddenly, I was in the wild west of an earlier epoch. For the intensity of reaction, I might as well have been talking with hunters about gun control or cattle ranchers about charging for grazing rights on public lands. Some of the “flaming” that swept over the electronic prairie was too intense for verbatim reproduction in a family-oriented publication like Software Development. Clearly, the issue touched some archetypal anarchy among software developers. My vocabulary grew as I caught some of the more trendy insults of the electronic age and was surprised to learn that “commie pinko” was still in the lexicon of contempt of some programmers. Plus c'est change, plus c'est même chose.



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