Last Friday night, I went with my family to see the movie The Social Network. It’s a truly interesting movie, regardless of whether you like Facebook, programming, or even the internet (Aaron Sorkin, the movie’s writer, can be quoted as saying “I’m not a fan”, which is alright because I still love him regardless). One thing that struck me, though, was how the conditions under which Facebook was created were depicted in the movie. According to the movie, it appears that the code behind Facebook mystically took form through some mixture of tequila, sex, and loud music – a combination of things that I’m fairly sure that any programmer can describe as, well, less than ideal working conditions.
Here’s an old article posted at Joel on Software about the conditions under which smart people are able to work best. The article is about programming specifically, but the vast majority of the article applies to other areas as well – the world of software just happens to be the first area where this methodology really took hold. And based on the fact that Aaron Sorkin, when writing the movie, said, “I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling,” I’m going to take a guess that the majority of Facebook’s early code actually got written in a slightly less distracting environment than your average college frat party. Just a guess though.