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.