Who do the “stars” look up to?

I follow a reasonable number of blogs. Not a vast number, but most of the ones I read (about computing, anyway) are written by people who are way out of my league. I mean, I can just about peer into the league of people like Simon Tatham who I’m proud to have as a friend even while I generally gape at his grasp of algorithms (verging on the obsessive at times, I have to say). Such people I regard as in a league above my own, and that’s fine – but then there are people like Don Box and Joe Duffy. If ever I’m tempted to start regarding myself as an “expert” in threading because some very kind people occasionally label me that way, all I need to do is think of Joe to come back to reality.

So my question is: who do these people look up to? Each other? I mean, I’m sure Don wouldn’t want to go head-to-head with Joe about detailed concurrency issues, and Joe probably wouldn’t try to bluff about web services around Don (which isn’t to say they couldn’t stimulate interesting discussion in each other’s area, of course). But there must be some recognition that they’re playing in the same league, just with slightly different equipment. Who do they regard with the sort of awe I have for them? Is there some uber-elite which us mere mortals don’t even hear about?

I think it’s healthy to be able to see people who are smarter than you. It can be a bit scary when you see just how wide the gap is (or at least appears to be) but it’s generally a good thing. The web has made this much easier – and simultaneously made it harder to be “big fish” because everyone gets to see how big the pond is.

If I get delusions of grandeur (well, more of them) I hope my friends will kick me back down to the right league. And if they don’t, I sincerely hope I’ll still be able to read the works of people like the ones listed above, and shrink back to Ronnie Corbert size again. Disclaimer: this doesn’t for one minute mean that I’ll avoid plugging my book like crazy when it’s nearer the release date.

4 thoughts on “Who do the “stars” look up to?”

  1. Quite frankly, I think most of the blogosphere is filled with self-indulgent crap. There are those I respect, but none I really consider that much more accompished than anyone else. They just chose to devote their energy into promoting their expertise.

    Personally, I read food blogs more than I read tech blogs. Most of the tech blog entries I read I delete after reading the first line.

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  2. I think its more about information. If someone can provide a constant source of quality information that fills a gap in the knowledge of an individual, then as a resource that person is extremely useful. But ‘looking up to someone’ implies something more spiritual I think. For example, I look up to the Pope, but if I had the choice, I’d choose ScottGu’s job over the pope’s any day… I certainly wish I had the knowledge and expertise of yourself John, and Nicolas, and I also respect you as experts in your field, but I don’t look up to you… sorry!

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  3. It’s obvious: the stars look down. From our perspective. But they are just tiny lights in a much bigger firmament. Apart from Box, who is a kind of pin-hole camera.

    Anyway, don’t people have lives outside of work?

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