A strikingly large portion of the most talented developers engage in work that cannot be supported in commercial development environments. This is because those environments are far too compromising of both the engineers work and the engineers ability to do the work effectively. I wrote a long and surprisingly popular article on this phenomenon -
Given the above realities, it is no stretch to say that the commercial software shop is where innovation, freedom, and initiative go to die. Worse yet, the truly innovative (EGcrazy) people are also prone to spiritually shriveling up and dying in commercial environments -
So you have the most talented people in the industry attempting to work on the most innovative projects wasting their lives bouncing from job to job when bills come due, making painfully slow and limited progress in any sphere.
The depression and suicide rates for this class of engineers is appallingly highevery couple of months, those of us with our ears to the ground see a respectable software contributor commit suicide due to a combination of hopelessness, general despair mixed with widespread mental health issues.
Lets take a moment to remember the most prominent member of the software community who dedicated their lives to progress and a passion we all share -
Ian Murdock - Murdock died on 28 December 2015 in San Francisco. As of 1 January 2016, no details of his cause of death have been officially released.
The last tweets from Murdocks Twitter account first announced that he would commit suicide, then said he would not. He reported having an altercation with police, and finally declared an intent to devote his life to opposing police abuse. His Twitter account was taken down shortly afterwards.
The San Francisco police confirmed he was detained, saying he matched the description in a reported attempted break-in and that he appeared to be drunk. The police stated that he became violent and was ultimately taken to jail on suspicion of four misdemeanor counts. They added that he did not appear to be suicidal and was medically examined prior to release. Later, police returned on reports of a possible suicide. The city medical examiners office confirmed Murdock was found dead. - Wikipedia.org
Aaron Swartz - On the evening of January 11, 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment by his partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. A spokeswoman for New Yorks Medical Examiner reported that he had hanged himself. No suicide note was found. Swartzs family and his partner created a memorial website on which they issued a statement, saying: He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.
Days before Swartzs funeral, Lawrence Lessig eulogized his friend and sometime client in an essay, Prosecutor as Bully. He decried the disproportionality of Swartzs prosecution and said, The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a felon. For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept. Cory Doctorow wrote, Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so. - Wikipedia.org
Ilya Zhitomirskiy - On the evening of 12 November 2011, Zhitomirskiy was found dead in his San Francisco home by police responding to calls about a suspected suicide. An autopsy report from the Medical Examiners office formally ruled the death as a suicide in April 2012. He died from an intentional inert gas asphyxiation using helium. While press reports questioned whether the pressure of working on Diaspora had led to his suicide, Diaspora co-founder Maxwell Salzberg disagreed. Salzberg stated, Yes, I agree that being a startup founder is stressful. But it wasnt the stress of work that killed Ilya. He had his own issues. He was sick. Zhitomirskiys mother, Inna Zhitomirskiy, did not comment on reports of his history of mental illness, but she did say on his participation in Diaspora, I strongly believe that if Ilya did not start this project and stayed in school, he would be well and alive today. - Wikipedia.org
No photo available.
Mr. NMr. N, who joined Namco to make video games, apparently started suffering from depression. Repeatedly, he asked for a transfer out of the pachi-slot division. His physician even put in requests. Namco, however, apparently refused these requests, and nine months after the transfer, Mr. N committed suicide.Kotaku.com
Alan Turing - To show how this is not a recent nor temporary phenomenon, let us go back to last days Alan Turing.
On 8 June 1954, Turings housekeeper found him dead. He had died the previous day. A post-mortem examination established that the cause of death was cyanide poisoning. When his body was discovered, an apple lay half-eaten beside his bed, and although the apple was not tested for cyanide, it was speculated that this was the means by which a fatal dose was consumed. An inquest determined that he had committed suicide, and he was cremated at Woking Crematorium on 12 June 1954. Turings ashes were scattered there, just as his fathers had been.
Sadly, this is not close to a comprehensive list.
Ive made many suggestions in previous articles about how to alleviate some of the problems we face in the industry, but what would really fix all this shit is very simple - let us treat each other like human beings, regardless of seniority, the leverage that we may have over others, our position in the financial hierarchy, whether or not people agree with our politics
Not to make a political point, but it appears as if the US nominations are coming down to either Bernie Sanders or Trump. As an anarchist (due to believe all human hierarchies result in abuse), I know that each of their policies will be equally disastrous. But the one thing that made me a marginal Bernie supporter was this short but frightening video.
While I think Bernie isnt much more than a kooky old liberal, at least unlike Trump, his involuntary actions inform me that he is a real human being, actually capable of caring about people other than himself.
So when people in power put disastrous policies are put into practice, it is only those who possess basic humanity who will be sensitive to see the suffering caused - and to thereby change course rather than callously doubling down.
Human beings who care about other human beings, even those as lowly and as disheveled as us hackers, are the people we should prefer to put in positions of power.
Real peoples lives are on the line.