Question: What motivates you as a programmer?
Justin Frankel: You know, most of it is when I want to do
something on my computer and there’s not, either there’s not a way or
there’s not a good way or there’s not a free way to do it. So, it comes
out of wanting to use the thing that I'm making, ultimately. And then
once it becomes something of its own, I think having other people use it
is actually very rewarding in that you get satisfaction from other
people getting the same benefits that you are from the software that you
Question: Who do you look up to?
Justin Frankel: There have been people where I’ve looked at the
work they’ve done and have a lot of respect for them and, like John
Carmack would be an example who was one of the founders of Id Software,
who made like "Doom" and "Quake" and "Wolfenstein 3D," and it was always
impressive to look and see the things that they would produce. And
they would be successful in doing it and apparently enjoy themselves.
So, that would be one top-of-my-head example.
Also, in like the ‘90’s, and probably maybe before that as well, there
was a big demo scene were people would make demos where it would be
trying to demonstrate what would be possible with the limited computers
of the time and most of these people were European, I think, but they
would have these bit parties where they would show off their demos and a
lot of those guys, I don’t remember specific names, but it was always
impressive the things that they could accomplish.
Question: What does it take to be one of the best developers?
Justin Frankel: I wouldn’t say that there are “best” programmers,
but I think that there are programmers who end up being probably ten
times more productive than the average programmer. And I don’t know
what it would really take, it comes down to... it comes down to just the
ability to cut through what's really important and then focus on that.
And sort of having the sense to know that when you get stuff right,
everything else can fall into place. And there’s probably some
necessary element of being able to keep enough things in your head at
the same time, but I think really a lot of it is just sort of a
signal-and-noise if you find the right thing to focus on, it makes
everything all right.
Question: Are developers really anti-social?
Justin Frankel: I think a lot of it comes down to; it’s very easy
to spend a great deal of time focusing in on something and then forget
to call you friends and that sort of thing. I probably would do that
more if I wasn’t married, so... But I think there are programmers that
way, but I think there are plenty of programmers who are just regular
people and do regular things and go out and, you know, do all the things
that are sort of normalish.
Recorded on June 21, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman