Thursday, January 13, 2005

What's it mean to be a badass?

I've been trying to figure out the difference between plain ol' developers and architects. It's supposed to be obvious that architects are better, but I want to put my finger on just how.

So I was listening to Jeffrey Zeldman ( give his keynote address at the Web Design World conference, and he was talking about Eric Meyer, who is a badass in all things to do with Cascading Stylesheets (CSS). He said, "Eric is the kind of guy you really want on your staff when you don't know how to do something with CSS, because he'll know. And not only will he know how to do it, he'll know seven ways to do it and what's wrong with six of them."

That struck a chord with me. A developer should be able to solve a problem, but an architect can describe a half-dozen approaches to the problem and what's right and what's wrong with each of them. I hasten to add that what's right and/or wrong with an approach will always depend on the context in which the problem is situated. That's why you can't replace a good architect/designer with a shelf full of books, or a small army of interns.

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