Wednesday, May 26, 2010
How Programmers Approach Internet Marketing
Specific people inspired this post. You guys know who you are! I'm in there with you - I'm constantly writing blog posts to promote my acting career, writing blog posts to make myself a better programmer, and writing blog posts so I can get more exercise (I'm not even kidding). There are more immediate ways to accomplish every one of these goals.
I think the most thorough and permanent solution is to learn a foreign language. When you learn a foreign language, you also learn a foreign way of speaking - for instance, Japanese bakes its system of etiquette and status directly into the grammar and even the forms of words. That's weird for an American, but this is even weirder:
In many Japanese offices, you're required to scream "Good morning!" at the top of your lungs, clapping your hands to your thighs, as soon as you enter the office area every morning. Everyone in the office then shouts "Good morning!" back to you....
"Before we move onto the next item, does anyone have any questions?" I seriously and portentously asked a question, then, which I thought was hilarious: "If we're the first one in the office in the morning, do we still have to scream 'Good Morning' and clap our hands to the sides of our legs?" Her answer was immediate, and humorless: "Yes." "Well, I mean, there's no one else around to hear it, right?" "You still have to do it. It's the rule. Every employee must do this. That's why we call it 'protocol.'"...
When I first came to Japan, and learned that "irasshaimase" meant "come [into the store]!" I expressed a certain amount of confusion to the dude who was playing the part of my tour guide. We were in a Jeansmate — a Japanese jeans store that is inexplicably open twenty-four hours a day, even in towns where (as in ours) the only god damn supermarket closes at eight in the PM. I was looking at jeans, and an employee, standing nearby, was repeatedly yelling "Irrashaimase" at my roommate and I. "That's just how they do things." He must have yelled it maybe a hundred times. We were the only customers in the store. "Why is he telling us to come into the store if we're already in the store?" "Beats me, man," was my roommate's response.
If that's too much for you, resort to the old saying: "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."
A less dramatic example of different cultures communicating in different ways: I read somewhere that at Python conferences, there is no IRC channel. Having a laptop open and hacking during a presentation is considered rude and gets you shunned.
Internet marketing is a different way of thinking. If you learn it, you can make money with it. What you do with that money, and the time it frees up, is up to you. There's nothing to say that the king doesn't build labyrinths in his spare time. The labyrinth guy might only be in the throne room because the king just said to him, before the comic began, "dude, I'm going to build a labyrinth, it's going to be awesome, you can help, just hang out in the throne room for five minutes while I take care of some business first."
Assuming that you're a programmer who wants to do internet marketing, what you need to do is be your own inner king, and tell your inner labyrinth nut to hang out in the throne room of your mind for five minutes while you take care of some business first. If you can do that, you can avoid having some corporate and/or VC dillweed be your king. You're going to have a king either way. It's impossible to exist without a king. What you can do is choose between an external king or an internal king.
Posted by Giles Bowkett at 9:55 AM