This story is interesting. Allegedly, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg wants to learn how to program. Mike Bloomberg is the main owner of “Bloomberg LLC”, which provides the Bloomberg terminal, a financial information service.
However, that’s completely missing the point. Mike Bloomberg’s goal shouldn’t be “Learn how to program.” His goal should be “Learn to tell the difference between genuinely good programmers and managers, and clueless people who are good at promoting themselves.” It is hard, but possible, to identify great programmers and managers, without being a programmer yourself.
The larger and older the institution, the worse management gets. Once senior management is all clueless twits, the competent people get filtered out. However, the State protects large corporations from competition and provides direct and indirect subsidies. That enables an organization run by clueless people to survive.
I interviewed for a job at Bloomberg a few times. The whole process indicated that Bloomberg isn’t a very tech savvy organization. The questions were mostly lame. The headhunter gave me a question transcript ahead of time, for each interview, through a couple of different headhunters!
If you’re not computer literate, you’re much more likely to hire someone who’s good at promoting himself, than someone who’s a genuinely good programmer. Bloomberg must have had some competent programmers at some time, because their product mostly works. However, if you actually use a Bloomberg terminal, it’s got a 1980′s-style user interface. The “Bloomberg Terminal” is basically a desktop terminal into an old computer; it looks like IBM RPG. Bloomberg is coasting off of past success and market inertia, rather than really improving their product.
Mike Bloomberg is missing the point. He needs to learn how to hire great programmers, rather than program himself. He probably doesn’t know that headhunters provide candidates with an interview transcript ahead of time. That favors dishonest candidates over honest ones.