Since I’m opinionated, I thought it’s only fair to provide some background information on myself, and why I think certain things are true and others false.  A brief bio:

  • Name: John Haren
  • Year of birth: 1969
  • Residence: California
  • Profession: Software Engineer
  • Employer: Netflix

Most of my professional experience is in the Java world, but I’ve done .NET work, too.  I have fond, and likely inaccurate, memories of C/C++.  I like Python and love Groovy.

I’ve experienced a strange career arc.  My early jobs were in enterprisey, serious realms like aviation, taxation and finance.  My work consisted of enterprisey, serious programming.  Lots of process involved, lots of people involved, lots of review and meetings and JAD sessions and documentation and UML diagrams and risk analysis forms and whatnot.

My work at O’Reilly was quite different.  I realized that no one would die if I don’t do my job right.  Worst that could happen is I’d get fired.  And the enterprisey serious things I listed above were laughed at (or hissed at) by the cool hip gunslingy web-two-point-ohey alpha geeks of the O’Reillyverse.  (N.B. I don’t necessarily mean O’Reilly’s developers, though there have been a few.  Mostly I’m thinking of the types who get invited to Foo Camp year after year.)

I’ve said my work at O’Reilly was different, which isn’t to say that I don’t bring old-school rigor to the job — but I do think about things differently now, for a variety of reasons.  It would be tedious to list them out in a single essay, so let’s just chalk it up to “experience has tempered my sensibility”.

Now, from an organizational standpoint, Netflix is in a different phylogeny from O’Reilly: Netflix is simply the best-organized company of its size I’ve ever seen.  Which meant that it took some getting used to; I was much more accustomed to being a real generalist at O’Reilly.  At Netflix, while branching out isn’t frowned upon, it’s much less necessary.  I can pretty much write my code and leave it at that, which gives me time to think.  From time to time, when I have a thought I think is worth sharing, I’ll post it here.