Experts, Craftsmen, and Ignorance


difference between having a great garden and being a great gardener.

The expert has in-depth knowledge into a few threads of technology. With these threads, the expert has the ability to weave together robust software applications on a small number of platforms and domains. The master craftsman has the ability to weave a tapestry out of myriad threads. No doubt she will have her favorite threads, and her favorite combinations, but the number of threads will be high, allowing the master craftsman to adapt into a wide range of technological environments. This is where the road to mastery takes you. By exposing and confronting your ignorance, you will spin the missing threads much more quickly than by faking it in order to appear competent.

Editor's Note: This article was adapted from one of the patterns from Dave's book-in-progress From Apprentice to Journeyman: Guidance for the aspiring software craftsman. For more information about this emerging pattern language, visit

About the author

Dave Hoover's picture Dave Hoover

Dave Hoover spends his days struggling to keep up with his fellow ThoughtWorkers, his wife, and his three children. He enjoys learning about and contributing to the craft of software development. Dave used to have a respectable job as a family therapist. He still wonders how he got here. You can read Dave's blog.

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