Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Are you a Flash outlier?

Just finished Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers (in audio form - you think I have time to read a book!?). The book is about success, and how external factors converge to give some people an advantage for success in a particular field. The best example in the book is the fact that in the late 1960s Bill Gates was probably the only teenager in the world to have unlimited access to a computer terminal, thus giving him a massive head-start on everyone else his age. So this got me thinking - what factors give one Flash designer or developer an advantage over another? Obviously no single factor can determine success, but I think the examples listed below don't hurt.
  1. Age. What's the ideal age to be a successful Flash developer? From my observations, most the well known developers in the blogosphere and conference circuit are between about 32-38, meaning they were born between about 1971-1977. This is also the age range of most the CEOs, CTOs and Creative Directors of Flash shops, that I have met. Why is this the case? Well, these people were in their mid-twenties when Flash became popular. They had the skills and the life experience neccessary to grab chance, and establish themselves as experts.
  2. Mix of design and development skills. In the early days, there weren't really designers and developers in the Flash world, there were just "Flashers", so to have a mix of both skills was a definitely advantage. I'd argue that Flex changed all that, and largely for the worse.
  3. Able to work in Western Europe or North America. Flashers seem to congregate in certain geographical areas, such as California, South East England and Toronto. While there are Flashers in many other places, these areas are a great place to start your career because it's much easier to find work.
  4. Education. Happily I don't think it makes a huge difference where or even if you went to college. Flash is a real meritocracy in this respect.
  5. Able to write English well. Many of the most well-known Flashers are probably not the greatest developers out there, but they are able to communicate what they know effectively and this brings it's own rewards.
Anyone else read this book? Can you think of any more factors that come into play? Suggest them in the comments!

2 comments:

derek knox said...

I read this book a few months ago and loved it (got me to read Gladwell's other books, though I believe Outliers is best). I'm both a hockey player and developer, so reading the first page had me hooked.

Anyway, I think the underlying element that enabled the success of those mentioned in the book is passion and/or an unimpeded interest in a field or topic. The date of birth of the various "outliers" played a huge role in their success, but their passion is what enabled their success.

I definitely recommend reading the book to anyone interested in reading about what enables some people to achieve greatness. Great read.

diamondTearz said...

I'm about to go purchase a book is what I hear you saying. Sounds like a great read. I think I'm a Flash Outlier-just trying to figure out what that means from here.