Hacker Career Advice

Bartleby, the Code Scrivener

In my opinion, Herman Melville’s short story, Bartleby, the Scrivener, should be required reading for software developers—especially those stepping into their first jobs.

The TL;DR is that Bartleby, while initially quite productive, becomes uncooperative when asked to work on repetitive tasks. He responds to every request with a passive aggressive, “I’d prefer not to.”

Does that remind you of anyone you’ve worked with? Say a developer who’s all about Machine Learning and building an API, but hates working on CMS, email marketing, or landing page tasks?

The thing is, not everything you work on is going to be “high” technology.

That landing page edit might seem like a chore, but it could massively improve the lives of your teammates in sales (and thus your stock options).

And maybe those CMS improvements will help your users get what they need faster, with less customer support.

The bottomline is that in professional software development, technology is a tool, not a toy.