Au revoir, Aaron

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

I hate it when good people leave.

Aaron Glenn started with Critical Mass a couple of years ago. (Admittedly, I can’t remember exactly when he started — that’s how long he’s been here. Or how much beer I’ve drank. Could be both, really.) Yesterday, he vacated for smaller pastures.

One of the sort of annoying things about Critical Mass is that we tend to create outstanding interface developers — Web and Flash, specifically. How is this annoying? Because other companies scoop them up when we need them most.

Here’s the problem. Critical Mass is a creative agency. Yes, I said creative. As in we come up with creative ideas that solve our clients’ problems. Although its taken me a few years to fully appreciate this, our technical side is more incidental to the solution than a key driver. We develop only what is needed — we don’t do much else.

Yes, the Rolex.com site was one of the most in-depth technical things that we’ve ever built. I’m ecstatic about the work that’s been done on the system. But I also understand that it’s not really impressive when you consider that we used off-the-shelf tools and libraries, with a bit of our own internal ingenuity. The integration work was outstanding, as was the additional development we did to make things work beautifully.

But…

Developers aren’t integrators. They can do the work of integration, but developers prefer to … well, develop. To create anew. Expand on the existing, rather than merely using it. I know this because when I was a developer, this is how I thought.

The best developers we have know this, too. Which is why many of them no longer work here. They realize that they need to grow further, dive deeper, and do things that we’ll likely never do around here. We won’t build Prototype or script.aculo.us, and certainly not a YUI. We won’t develop Ruby or Rails. Won’t contribute to Linux or MySQL. That’s not what we do.

And for that realiziation, all we can do is wish people who do want to build these tools or contribute to systems all the best in their future endeavours as they head for new grazing. And keep track of them so we can try to hire them back later, when (and if) they want to go into management rather than program all the time.

So take care, Aaron. It’s been a slice. Until Ribtor II is built, we’ll at least be able to shine lights across the way to exchange coded messages.

Or something like that…

2 Replies to “Au revoir, Aaron”

  1. Your point about developers being more than merely implementors reminded me of the question you asked me during my interview with Critical Mass – is development a right- or left-sided brain activity. It’s sad to see Aaron go. It’s very sad to have, in our jerks lunches, the former CMers being outnumbered by present CMers, but I just have to stop thinking that way and acknowledge that my interaction with said jerks (via IM or email) is the same now as it was when they worked here.

  2. Thanks Geoff, seems like only yesterday I was being interviewed by you for my “dream job”. I can’t thank you or CM enough for the opportunity to work at such a great company with all the friends I met. Brush up on your morse code, there will be some incoming signals.

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