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The Matrix vs. The Lord of the Rings: Are you a Classic or a Futuristic Developer?

November 5th, 2021
You’re looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did. Are you a classic or a futuristic developer? And how do you even figure that out?

By mapping your own skills and style to The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix, of course. 

These films ask us to question our world, they demand we push our boundaries. Because if a little hobbit can do it, anyone can.

And with a new Matrix movie promising to explore new possibilities, it’s time to uncover the secrets within.  

Reinvention vs. heritage

If you’re happiest tinkering with traditional programming languages like PHP or Cobol, then don Gandalf’s hat and robes. You’re destined for Middle-earth. 

If you’re yearning to explore new technologies like machine learning or the cloud, trade those crusty grey robes for Neo’s black, leather trench-coat. 

LOTR is, fundamentally, about protecting the world as it is. The ever-present past casts a long shadow; cultural traditions are respected, championed; wisdom and mysteries remain locked away in the ancient archives of Minas Tirith and behind long-forgotten magic. 

The Matrix is driven by change. Deconstructing and reinventing society, world, and the self – whether it’s The Architect’s ‘designed reality’ or the rebels who oppose it. And after the façade of Neo’s world crumbles, it’s up to him to discover how to operate in a new world, with new rules and new tools. 

How does that chime with your own career ambitions: do you protect and preserve or rebuild and reinvent?

When you’re working on a website, are you more concerned with preserving its current functionalities or trying a new twist with futuristic features? Are you the one checking that hours (days? weeks?) of work won’t be wasted because of small modifications, or are you championing those risky bigger changes? 

Work out what matters to you - there’s no right or wrong answer.

Patience vs. pace

It’s really important to match your job to your working style. And you can use our trilogies as a guide to help you figure that out. 

Think back to Fellowship’s long and beautiful opening sequence. A wizard in a rickety cart rattles over a bridge into the sun-dappled greens of the Shire, under the eye of carefree Hobbits. 

But all is not as it seems. Our wizarding friend has an ulterior motive – for he sees things you people wouldn’t believe. His mind is working months, years, decades beyond ours. In short, he plays the long game. 

A classic Gandalf-like developer will prefer to work towards a long-term vision. Often, they’ll have – or help build – a ‘master plan’. You’ll favour strong processes and tried-and-tested systems here. 

There is no beauty in the anonymous world of Matrix – unless you count the girl in the red dress (or even our Keanu). No time to rest. No time at all. ‘Reality’ is too fast-paced for those luxuries. 

Just don’t confuse that frenetic energy for chaos. Neo and his comrades are constantly working towards lots of smaller goals at a rapid-fire rate. 

A Matrix-style dev is going to be more at home working on multiple, quick-turnaround projects. Expect loads of iterating and prototyping and overcoming cool challenges that need new ways of thinking. 

Visceral vs. rational

Developers are natural problem-solvers. It takes all your skill to stay online and on-track when systems throw unexpected fits or projects are passed down from on high, oh, and they’re due tomorrow, if you don’t mind. 

How do you approach that challenge? 

The Matrix will attack that challenge head-on. You have guns. Lots of guns. And you’re ready to get stuck into battle – whether you have a plan or not. You’re willing to try new methods that haven’t been tried before, new technologies, new tools that are faster than ever before. In the world of computers, you’re bringing the personal touch.

The LOTR-minded dev is more strategic in approach. Your meetings resemble the Council of Elrond – only slightly shorter than the book version. You enjoy building a plan with your team. Their axe. Their bow. Their sword. You’re familiar with careful preparation. You’ve put in the hours reading through the documentation (twice, sometimes) before writing a single line of code.

Details vs. discovery

From the moment you watch LOTR or read the book, you know where you are. It all starts with a map of Middle-earth – it doesn’t get any clearer than that. You have a sense of time, place, and history. The rich background details are openly shared with us. 

In a similar way, classic developers are born sharers. They pioneered open-source hubs back when Azure was just another shade of blue. Like the storied history of Tolkien’s fables, with years of experience using older tools like PHP, there’s tons of knowledge out there pulled together by dedicated devs. 

In The Matrix, the real world is hidden – the city doesn’t even have a name – and its secrets only revealed as Neo scratches (or blasts) beneath the surface. A new, exciting world just waiting to be discovered. 

And it’s that sort of excitement that drives Neo-like devs. If you fall into this bracket, you love working with the latest technologies. Innovating and testing fresh ideas, just to see what works, or identifying a better way to do things. Like Neo when he sees the real world for the first time, only you get paid to do it every day. 

One role to rule them all

You don’t want to bring a wand to a bullet-time gun battle. 

So make sure your job - as a classic or a futuristic developer - fits your working style and personality.

And if it doesn’t… tell us about your talents.

Whether you love working with React.js or you’ll never stop loving RoR, we’ll help you find the job that works for you. 

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