What motivates geeks?

I recently moved a project from .NET 2.0 to .NET 3.5 and discovered that a method I had used to deserialize some JSON had become obsolete. This prompted much debate with my colleagues about why the .NET framework continues to change.

The guys I was talking to both reckon that a large part of the motivation for Microsoft to keep changing the .NET Framework is just to make money. I guess in their view of the situation, the desire for change is being driven from the top, and Scott Guthrie and co. are coming up with changes to please their financially-minded masters.

I don't buy this. I can't imagine the .NET architects sitting round a table in Redmond saying "We have been told to change things for .NET 4.0 so our users have to upgrade - can anyone think of anything we can change?"

My view of the situation is that change is being driven from the bottom: the guys who actually design and build the Framework, who are passionate about creating the best development platform they can, are constantly hoping to improve things for the millions of developers out there using .NET.

The fact that I'm struggling to adapt to a change in JSON deserialization is very frustrating, but I have no doubt that the person who took the decision to deprecate the old method and create the DataContractJsonSerializer class did so because they thought it would be better than the JavaScriptSerializer.

Obviously the money men in Microsoft would have been pleased that the JSON guru decided to improve things, as it's one microscopic part of the reason that people will upgrade to 3.5, but I firmly believe that the changes are driven by people who are engrossed in the technical side of their job, and are desperate to make .NET as good as possible.

They are, after all, just another bunch of geeks. They may be more talented and more influential than your average bunch of geeks, but they are fundamentally just another team of geeks doing their jobs. In my experience, whilst geeks want to get paid just like anyone else, what they really want is to make things work better.
Published 14 February 2008 01:45 PM by jonsayce
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