Pile of Turtles Archive

Modern Programmer Culture

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I’m writing this article for myself, well, my younger self. I wish I had known this information when I was just starting out programming so that I would’ve known there was a culture to belong to. I have been a part of programming culture for a scant seven years, but I have absorbed a great deal of knowledge from my fellow developers. Much of this knowledge exists because those who write code wear it as a badge, and those who want to write better code look up to them for wisdom, pitfalls, coping techniques, hobbies, and more. Some of the developers I follow are big enough to be rock stars in the industry, others draw instead of write, and some help to aggregate the latest programming news by casting votes on their favorite articles.

Rock Stars

Yes, even programming has rock stars. I’m going to list a few of my favorite programming rock stars. I tend to gravitate toward opinionated, sometimes asshole excitable, people simply because they are more fun to read.

Jeff Atwood

This was the first rock star I encountered. Following his blog, I watched him create StackOverflow which was a great inspiration to create and work on my own side projects. The fact that his success is blogged from its inception to one of the most popular websites on the internet.

Wil Shipley

I started out reading archives of his blog, only to find that his real gems are saved for twitter. He lives like a rock star and offends like one too. He wrote a piece of software that only Mac users could understand, a virtual library for your belongings called Delicious Library. If you’ve ever written curse words into your code, you’ll enjoy his rantings.

Steve Yegge

I started with his blog archives from his time at Amazon and then graduated to his actual blog. Be careful, I made the mistake of switching to using Emacs as my main text editor after reading his blog for too long.


All professions that require sitting in a cubical also require decorations to adorn their carpeted walls. Our decorations come in the form of 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper secretly printed from office printers.


Required reading. If you get hired at a job where you aren’t the sole programmer, your co-workers (and even your interviewer) will expect that you already know 90% of these comics by heart. For those who don’t have time to read them all, just flip through the first page of comics listed here, most of them are xkcd.


This one isn’t so much a programmer comic as it is a humdrum office life comic. It just so happens that most programmers end up working in an office similar to Dilbert’s. Useful to read a few comics if you want to know why the hell one of the guys in the office keeps getting called, “a Wally.”

Penny Arcade

Perhaps the most popular web comic. Doesn’t directly deal with programming, but rather the outcome of hundreds of thousands of hours of programming, video games. Sharp wit and enough homoerotic references to make anyone smile.


Most programmers are at least curious about the cutting edge developments in their field. Here’s a smattering of the best places to keep up to date on this very information.

Hacker News

The best kept secret of the most informed programmers in your office. Lots of great information here if you’re considering writing some software on the side or starting up your own single person company. Also, they call programmers hackers here, don’t refer to them otherwise or be shunned.

Programming Reddit

Keeping up with the latest programming memes is also important. Here’s a great place to do it. Great articles about P>NP and Conway’s Game of Life also float up to the top from time to time.


I hadn’t heard of them until they picked up my last article. Since they have such great taste, they must be awesome.

If you have any suggestions for the above categories, please leave them in the comments below. I’m sure the readers of the future would like to know who the current programming rock stars are, even after Experts Exchange finally carries out a hit on Jeff Atwood.

The Best Programmer Movies Follow-Up

Last week I posted an article about the best movies for programmers to watch. Suffice it to say I had no idea how many movies about programming existed.  I got a gigantic amount suggestions in the comments, on reddit, and from my colleges. I’ve already purchased eight movies to watch for the follow up article, with about 15 more to follow. The next post about programmer movies isn’t going to be an opinion about which are best, but instead a catalogue of all of them.

Category: Programming
Tags: comics, movies, news, rockstars
by @mutewinter