Software theorists and experimentalists

The Java Information Group asked the question: if you could pick anyone in the Java community to be your personal mentor for one year, who would that be any why?

Here’s my response:

I do not believe that there is a single individual that possesses both the Java and software engineering skills necessary to be my personal mentor. There are those that possess unique insight into Java and there are those that have mastered the mechanics of writing, managing and maintaining Java software but it seems that never the twain shall meet. Though if I had to choose a mentor from the two groups it would certainly be someone that has mastered software engineering.

I have two follow up questions of my own:

  1. Do you agree with my observation that it seems that people either excel at being theorists (those that possess unique Java insight) or at being experimentalists (those that have mastered mechanics of writing, managing and maintaining Java software)?
  2. Who are the well-known experimentalists today?

One comment

  1. Your point about mastering software engineering is an excellent one. I have hired, developed and designed software with developers who can tell you the lastest on SOAP or JDO. After you dig past the veneer, you find someone who really does not understand the basic mechanics of engineering a good product.
    Many of the conferences I have attended, including JavaOne were great if you came to listen to theory and “what if.” If you combine the theorists and the experimentalists you have some knowledge; you have some powerful ideas.
    Now how do you couple that with good solid software engineering and ultimately delivering something outstanding for the business?
    The answers to our mentoring question have been interesting and surprising. If you want to find out what we learned, join us in the group to see. This is a difficult question to answer honestly.
    If we had the opportunity to be mentored by the person we listed (and some agreed that there was no “one” person they would pick), would we be glad to have them at our side for a year?
    Or would we find out 2 weeks into it that we were now stuck with our choice?
    Eric, Co-Founder
    Java Information Group

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