KEARNEY COLUMN: Techies type, talk and tweet
When it comes to the Charleston software community, Greg Waxman has “been around the block.”
“I've been at +Blackbaud, #PeopleMatter, and now +SPARC, LLC (#SPARC),” Waxman began his recent Google+ post, naming three of the most prominent local programming shops. “Let's talk about them and finally why my company is better than yours.”
What follows is a nearly 5,000-word, tell-almost-all essay about Waxman's programming career, featuring frank appraisals of those three companies and the broader software scene here in the Holy City.
Even in an era of ascendant social media and sites like GlassDoor, where people dish about their current and former employers, it's pretty remarkable.
Waxman fondly remembered the mentoring he received while part of the NetCommunity team at Blackbaud Inc. but sharply criticized the Daniel Island company's management and technology.
He praised the development team and opportunities for personal growth at PeopleMatter but railed against “outsourcing galore” and the “unnecessarily large hierarchy” at the top of the North Charleston-based company, which will soon move into new headquarters on King Street.
And while he emphasized the perks of working at SPARC in the post published late last month, Waxman admitted his coworkers initially seemed “Body Snatchers nice” and that the company gets its software development technique “wrong in lots of ways.”
More broadly, Waxman claimed “the average Charleston developer is worse than those in the bigger tech centers” and that “Charleston will never compare nor compete with other tech cities.”
And there's a lot more, some of it very technical, some of it very specific, including the names of current and former coworkers.
Waxman did not respond to a request for comment. SPARC chief product officer John Smith, who called the essay “Transparent ... And awesome!” on Twitter, confirmed Waxman works for SPARC but declined to comment further. And Blackbaud and PeopleMatter spokesmen either declined to comment or didn't respond to messages.
Regardless of the veracity of the post (and the relative silence that's followed it), it's just the latest example of a kind of brutal honesty in an industry that tends to share know-how and opinions freely, seemingly with the understanding that competence matters more than tact.
In August, Steve Corona, chief technology officer of Charleston-based Twitpic, touched off a lively debate with his blog post entitled “College was my biggest mistake.”
Corona, whose blog profile identifies him as “Honest,” goes on to describe how he dropped out of college because it wasn't worth it, managed to succeed as a self-taught programmer, and how others might be wise to follow his path.
And then there are legion coders on tweet about their work, their political beliefs and their off-the-clock adventures around Charleston.
Some keep quiet, but it seems today's techies are not the tight-lipped lawyers and bankers of yesteryear.
Many company executives must be uncomfortable with this trend, but as a newsman, a proponent of the free flow of information, I say keep it up.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.