Post #33 – Reflection on the “Rubbing Elbows” Pattern

This week, I will be writing the posting my final reflection on an apprenticeship pattern – the Rubbing Elbows pattern.  This pattern addresses developers who feel that they are more productive when they work alone.  The problem that arises for these developers is that they feel that their learning is stagnating because they believe that superior techniques are out there and their work environment causing them them to elude you.  I have had some problems working in groups throughout my college career, but I have never felt that my learning is stagnant.  I chose to write a reflection on this pattern because I think it could be useful in the future, if I ever run into this kind of problem.  Oshineye and Hoover provide solid advice on how to improve your learning in unfavorable environments.

The first piece of advice they give is to find ways to work on tasks with another developer, “side-by-side”.  Oshineye and Hoover believe that some things can only be learned while in the company of other developers.   Even if many techniques don’t require you to collaborate to learn, many ‘microtechniques’ do.  They believe that it is also beneficial to rotate programming partners, because you may find that, after some time, your partner has beome a troublesom one.  Your peers are not the only element conducive to a good working environment though; the physical location is actually important, as well.  According to Richard Sennett’s the Craftsman, an ideal work environment is one in which “absorption into tacit knowledge, unspoken and uncodified in words” takes place.  As many of us are aware, those kind of environments are few and far between, so ‘rubbing elbows’ with another developer is the modern day substitute.  Working with others exposes you to work habits that allow you to gradually refine your skill and extend those habits beyond software development.

The action they advise you to take, if you are somebody currently experiencing this problem, is to find somebody who has already expressed an interest in working collaboratively.  Try to coordinate with that person to meet once a week for a while and see how long you remain motivated.  If the business of your life begins to put a strain on your motivation, adapt and find ways to keep pushing forward until the motivation returns.  I found this pattern very helpful and I will utilize it in my future collaborations.