The Cult of Lone Coders

Thanksgiving Day might be over, but there is one group of individuals who we have a lot to thanks for. The lone coders – who put-in hours, days and months and develop a piece of software that we so desperately need but cannot, find anywhere. How to synchronize your Pocket PC with an Apple? Or a news aggregator which runs on OS-X? Or that tiny little code that can synchronize Entourage personal information manager with a Sony Ericsson phone!

Many of you must be wondering, why should I bother with these folks, given that this weblog is about broadband? Broadband is a great enabler which has allowed many of the lone-coders to get into business for themselves. Thanks to a high speed connection and cheap hosting services, a programmer in Oregon can set-up shop without as much as idling the engine on his decade old Honda. Today, when outsourcing and off-shoring are threatening the American way of business, the lone coders are perfect example of how technology and broadband can counter those macro economic forces.

The Internet boom has proved to be a boon for programmers who refuse to climb the corporate ladder; or kowtow to the whims and fancies of venture capitalists. An increasing number of talented coders are setting up shop on their own, developing niche products for under served markets and making a decent living. Rick Ellis, a musician turned programmer. It is a counter-culture movement and has gaining strength especially with the scarcity of jobs. Mena and Ben Trott were road kill when they wrote blogging software, Moveable-Type just on a lark when unemployed.

I have tried to pitch this story to many publications, without much success. I have come to believe in the power of the weblogs and we can spread the word on their good deeds. Many of these folks work in anonymity. The business press is unlikely to write about them; the technology trades are too busy focusing on products from the big corporations. But these people are worthy of our gratitude and deserve the publicity because they produce they produce useful software.

In coming weeks I am going to profile some of these wonderful people including Rick Ellis of PMachine, Brent Simmons of Ranchero Software, Jonas Salling and many more. (I would love to get your recommendations and leads.) Meanwhile, you can read the first of the series on Six Apart’s Ben and Mena Trott here.