In this article I’m going to give a review about “Being Geek” by Michael Lopp.
The book could be awesome but in my eyes it misses the goal behind the title.
My thoughts about the title
I thought this book will be something special about how you are recognized in the “outer world” if you are a geek / nerd.
Well, in my eyes this book missed the goal behind the title — or at least I think so.
I thought this would cover some insights about geekness or nerdness. Or something about how do you know which nerds are like you. Or if you have unavoidable contact with “outsiders” how do not end up in silence.
One chapter was for the best-half of the reader where the author describes what it is like to being geek and what makes the partner feeling like when he/she sits in front of the computer and writes lines of something to see at the end appear “FizzBuzz” at the screen.
There is very less about how it is like being geek. It is mostly a “how-to-survive-changing-your-job” guide nothing special about being geek.
What’s the book about
To see what the book really is about read the subtitle: “The Software Developer’s Career Handbook”. The title is in my opinion really off to this subtitle. I would say “Develop Your Career” or something like that.
However if I look at the book in with this knowledge in my mind I see it a bit different.
Michael Lopp has long background in software development and managing developers with over 12 years blogwriting experience. So it is clear that he can give good advices. For example how do you know when it is time to change your job? How do you survive this job change? How do you know what is the next position / career step you want to achieve?
And the answers to these questions can be essential for someone who plans to achieve a very well formed career path — and I do not mean something like the Gaussian distribution but something like an exponential function.
The book has some nice topics on how to integrate into your work-community (bridge-lunch events). Naturally you are free to alternate this to your culture. For example in German speaking countries (Germany and Austria) it is common to go for an after-work-beer with co-workers. This enables you later to have a looser contact between the four walls of the office and approach each others with questions more often.
But the book is off here too: the descriptions and advices seem to be generalized experiences of Michael Lopp. They can happen to be true for your company but not generally working — outside the US (even Silicon Valley) definitely not. The culture is different and so are the managers too.
Is the book really that bad?
No way. The book is good in its own category but I carry on the bad taste in my mouth which was generated because of the title and content difference. However it reads itself like a charm.
The book is mainly a compilation of Rands’ blog posts which is a nice way to sum up the experience developed in years (I did the same with my first book too) and with this it is based on his experience.
And one important thing: if you want to change your gig (current company or just the position) take a look at section 2. There you can gather some information about how managers and co-workers tick and how you can tackle them to stay on your route.
I have not read it yet but I think the other book of Michael Lopp, Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager is a bit better in content but as I’ve read in the comments at Amazon it is again a blog-to-book which would need some polishing.
I did not get the book from the publisher or for free. I went ahead and purchased the book and read it to form my opinion.