As a senior engineer, I feel like part of my job is to stay in touch and to be in touch. I also like to write. So I write this blog, and I also spend about twenty minutes a day reading blogs and twitter posts. And as I scan through the posts, some people are so prolific (particularly on Twitter) that I wonder how they can get anything really productive done. Nicholas Carra wrote an article in the Atlantic an interrupt-driven culture is preventing us from having truly deep and constructive creative processes, and the tweet-heads spend the next two weeks ruminating on this.
Fade to the present. A few days ago I sat down with one of our best and brightest engineers on the NetBeans team to get his help with something. This guy is famous for his ability to pump out good, cool, useful code. He is an invaluable member of the team.
After our technical discussion, we were chatting about this and that, and he mentioned he was having problem with our mail server which appears to be caused by the fact that he has over 20,000 unread messages in his Inbox.
I just stared at him. He said "I know I should be reading all these, but every time I read something, it's something else I have to do, and it stops me from getting my work done."
I said, so how do I reach you? He said IM, and gave me his IM account. But he said most of the time he marks himself as away because otherwise his mother will want to chat.
He also said he has a private email account for personal conversations, but he generally doesn't read those either.
Then he said, I guess if you really need to reach me you can call me. I said "but last time I called your extension, your voice mail said that the best way to reach you is by email!" He laughed and said that actually he hasn't listened to his Sun voice mail in about six years.
And I realized, this is someone who is so passionate about his work that he will accept no distractions. He is on a mission, and he gets stuff done. It may be highly frustrating to try and talk to him, but you can't deny his real value to Sun.
So, thus, my new motto: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, tweet." Now, back to work, and maybe I'll get back to you.