🗒 Notes from “Tech as a Taste-Based Industry”

Living here in Singapore, being so close to rising regional technology hubs like Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and Thailand, we do not have shortage of access to skilled, low-cost, software engineering talent.

I have always struggled to understand what this means for sourcing of software development talent. How can a software developer compete against a rising tide that commodifies their skillset? What differentiates a software developer outside of niched subject-matter expertise?

Turns out that answer lies in the collision zone between technique and intention. Or as this wonderful essay correctly puts it, “taste”.

In a taste-based industry, its products are stripped down to their very core: how it makes its users feel. We see this phenomenon happen in books, music, movies, games and increasingly tech products.”

We know all know the products that have fundamentally changed the human condition: iPhones, Instagram, Skype, and Spotify. They share something in common: these innovations combined deliberate and empathetic intention of design with driven engineering teams that iterate and deliver on beta cycles, forcing breakthroughs to bear.

Build something by yourself or a very small team and infuse as much of a unique, experience that you can’t find anywhere else and finish it.

Perhaps in the world of numbers and companies boasting the sizes of their engineering teams, how much resources you have will not matter as much as what you choose to do with them.

Your Reservoir Dogs might not get mass critical acclaim. That’s ok. Use your Reservoir Dogs as a gravitational slingshot for more influence and a higher budget. You can use it to convince your team members and angels that yes, you do indeed have taste. With expanded resources, you can then dare to apply your taste to more ambitious aims.

Since creativity is often born out of the forces of constraint, perhaps the thing that will differentiate software development talent for the next decade lies simply in taste.