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Up Front

Passion and Pragmatism

by Michael Swaine

Generic image illustrating the article

Passion and pragmatism is the theme of this issue. Turns out they can go hand-in-hand.

Pragmatism—well, yes, this magazine is published by the Pragmatic Bookshelf, but we’re specifically talking about making a living as a programmer. Johanna Rothman looks at one side of the process of hiring, particularly finding people who fit into your agile team. And Andy Lester looks at the same situation from the perspective of the programmer looking to be hired.

But for most of you, programming isn’t just a paycheck, it’s your passion. Jonathan Rasmusson and Steven K. Roberts both weigh in on the side of following your passion even when the world says you’re crazy. Jonathan articulates the crucial difference between personal startups and speculative ones. You shouldn’t make decisions about a personal startup in the same way you would make decisions about a speculative one. And Steven, whose own projects include building a technobike and riding it across America, continues his series on following your passion through gonzo engineering.

Where the magic happens, though, is in that spot where passion and pragmatism come together. So Steven reveals all of his funding secrets—ways he’s found to get strangers to give you the wherewithal to pursue your personal dream. Jonathan reminds us that fortunes are sometimes made by people who had the courage to follow their passions. And Andy coaches you on how to find the work that you can be passionate about.

Elsewhere in the issue, Paul Callaghan continues his exploration of his passion, functional programming, and the irascible John Shade shows his poetic side. Spoiler: it isn’t pretty.