The Web Development Community and Political Ideology Digg this entry Add this entry to bookmarks Add this entry to Slashdot bookmarks

After downloading the Firebug extension for Firefox (a must-have for web development and design), I happened to start reading Joe Hewitt's web journal.

One of his posts lamented how he believes socialism is a disincentive for creativity. Out of curiosity, I read a few of the comments, and I was intrigued at the number of comments by those who lean to the left of center ideologically. A clear majority of the comment posters disagreed with Joe's argument, and a couple of them even quoted icons like Karl Marx and Noam Chomsky.

This question has nagged at me for a few years now, and Joe's blog brought it to the surface once more. I really don't want to argue politics or ideologies, or the merits or faults of one side or the other. What I want to know is this: Why does it seem that such a majority of web developers/designers are more sympathetic with the views of the left, as opposed to those of the right? In your opinion, what are the correlations between ideology and professional web development?

I'll start it off...

I'm a far right-leaning conservative (hence my curiosity!). I don't exactly know why I am, except that I have such a clear sense of right and wrong that I really do see most things in black and white. I find it strange when others attempt to disparage my views due to their simplicity, but only because I take pride in the fact that my ideological views are so simple.

If I had to guess, I'd say that my views relate to my job as a professional web programmer/design in that there are cut and dry rules that govern web development. Whether they are in stylesheets, javascript code, HTML markup, or server-side languages, I find great comfort in the detail-oriented work it takes to assemble a usable website. I know there is no such thing as perfect javascript code or the "right" way to design a page, but I still like the challenge of being as consistent as possible (code-wise, not necessarily design-wise) with each of my projects.

So while I'm completely aware that my line of work is not black-and-white in itself, I chose it because I consider my own work to be at its best when it follows the rules and styles I've assembled for myself over time.

More practically, I also know that I want to own my own business someday, and the thought of our litigious American society (due to the "it's never my fault..." mentality), high taxes, and government limiting my freedoms really rubs me the wrong way. So much so that I often wonder if it's worth starting a business in the first place.

What do you think?

Do you think your ideological views play into your decision to work as a web professional? Do you think it's the other way around?

5 CommentsRSS

1 aj wrote: [11:51pm on February 6 2007]

Because those in aesthetic/artistic pursuits trend highly to the left: artists/writers.

There have been polls taken of those in the media. 85 to 90% admit to voting democrat. so is it no wonder that many accuse the media of being biased. I work in the web development department of a company that is somehow associated with the media (i'm afraid to be too specific) in a major metropolitan city and all those around me are complete leftists. I have to keep my mouth shut. They just assume that everyone around them agrees with them. I was speaking with a colleague, and this other co-worker next to us, says out loud for all to hear in a conversation he is having, "....I hate all those damn republicans...." It doesn't even occur to him that there might be one around him within hearing distance. He just assumes that everyone agrees with him.

After the 2000 and 2004 elections the NY Times meandered around Manhattan asking people their reaction to the election. Almost all respondents were shell shocked that Bush won. Because these guys live in a Left Wing bubble. Most respondents answered something like, "I don't know anyone who voted for Bush; how could he have won/???" Did they look at the red/blue map? I live in a community just outside the major metro I live in and within my community most people did vote for Bush.

2 Angelo Mandato wrote: [3:04pm on February 18 2007]

I firmly disagree on the idea of seeing things in black and white. My reasoning and opinion making is formed by the combined knowledge of history and science. If everyone had the mindset that #000000 and #FFFFFF are the only colors in life, those things that make life worth living such as love, pain, stress, pleasure, death, birth, etc... would not exist. If life was one continuous right way and wrong way to do things, there would be no reason to learn from mistakes, grow ones mind, or discuss the idea of black and white.

If you have a bee hive in your back yard, do you use the historic knowledge that swinging a bat into the hive has resulted in many stings or do you apply the yes/no or black/white idea of an eye for an eye. Some conservatives have a tendency to react with a decision based solely on morals or religious convictions. A left minded rational person will try to predict all of the outcomes and how the action will be perceived by others.

Good developers do not think in black and white. Every new problem requires the developer to use rational thought and examine all options for the solution. Those developers who are right minded typically hate new languages, don't innovate, are insulted by new ideas and don't like to learn new technologies. John, you are a left minded developer. You constantly innovate and take technology forward.

The question should be, what makes you see at everything else in black and white but not your career?

3 Beckie wrote: [2:58pm on June 30 2007]

I don't think ideological views and employment have anything to do with each other. You can be a lefty or a righty and be a great developer.

I am new to the developer world and am a right-winged conservative. This is not due to religion (I don't believe in God) or the way I was raised. There are four kids in my family and every one of us have a different point of view. I think it has to do with life experiences whether you turn out to be a lefty or a righty. Unless you don't have a brain for yourself and then you will just become whatever it is that your parents are, or your spouse is, or your friends tell you to be.

4 Janus Daniels wrote: [8:56am on August 28 2007]

Guy Hasson wrote about your question:

At least, I think he did...

What do you mean by left vs. right? Some people use "right" to mean "vote Bush"

others use it to mean "Bush is beyond wrong; he's a perversion"

This sounds interesting; please define your terms.

5 y5 wrote: [8:53am on August 29 2007]


Thanks for the link to Hasson's page. I made a comment immediately after reading it, as I don't think he really thought his reasons through.

When I write "left" or "right", I don't mean political leanings (especially American politics) as much as philosophical. Conservativism is a belief that government should not be trusted, and its growth should be limited at every chance. Liberalism is a belief that government should be expanded to fill the needs of all its citizens.

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