Dogs and Cats Living Together: Engineers and the User Experience

Posted on 02 August 2010

My friend Antonio made the closing keynote at the last PyCon.  I was eager to read his presentation because knowing Antonio it would, hopefully, be perfectly “over the top.”  He had some great points, which I’m trying to relate to Community Management. One of my favorite concepts is this:

“Traditionally, there has been this separation between “business” things and “technology” things, with people that do one or the other.  This is a false dichotomy. It probably has always been.”

I think he brings up a great point.  Having people who can own the experience makes them better at doing what they do, so how does that relate to my job?

I’d love to replace two words in that quote to make a slightly different, but similar point. Let’s replace “business” and “technology” with “engineering” and “community support.”  I’ve always been a fan of “immersion” of engineers in the support process because it connects engineers with the people who are using their code. There has always been a separation between the coders and the code-users that has never made sense to me.

The BEST code is written by engineers who are exposed to the customers that use the product.

Everyone likes to stay in their little comfort circle, whether you’re a biz/dev guy, a community manager or a coder.

I think Antonio is right when he says that most people would think busting up the false dichotomy of traditional business,

“is a crazy proposition, one which will make anyone here who has ever worked at a startup suck in their breath in disapproval and wonder why they let the crazy on stage.”

I know plenty of engineers who would feel the same way when asked to answer a few customer support emails.


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