A peek at the IT leaders who work as free time programmers

Our small survey looks at what motivates IT leaders to spend their free time coding

If you straw poll people on what they would do with themselves if they didn’t have to spend all day at their real-life place of employment, you’ll find the results quite varied. Many people will speak vaguely about “travel” or “reading”. But quite a considerable volume, will list activities that consist of actual work.

And for some that work is almost the same as the stuff of their day jobs. Think of all those would-be 90,000 word novelists, eight-by-four foot oil painters, or multi-level computer game programmers. Really, there is no denying these activities will be a bit of a slog, even if they are a labor of love. And for many, these tasks (very) loosely constitute what they do all day.

The interesting thing about all this is it can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Because while a great many people are employed in a field that has absolutely nothing to do with what they actually like – others love the principle of what they do, if not the practice. While others still, love it all so much they want more… even in their free time.

Take all those wannabe novelists, artists, game designers out there. Many of these are, in fact, graphic designers, copywriters and developers, paid during the day to produce corporate words, pictures and IT interfaces. But maybe it is just not the same as running your own creative project?

It is important to remember, of course, that for great swathes of the “I’d love to write a computer game” brigade, it is all just wishful empty chat, dependent on that all-important pay packet. Yet for others it is a whole way of life. This is why the grassroots programmers fascinate me so much – this is my term for the IT professionals who consistently work on additional IT projects outside work.

And these are precisely the people who put their money where their mouth is, to wield a cliché. Or perhaps, more fittingly, they put their time where their mouth is?

A little while back we caught up with a few individuals to discover what motivated them to pursue extra IT projects in their free time. Then as a follow up we ran a short survey to a straw sample of 24 of these global IT professionals to generate a bit more insight. We’ve summarized the results below.

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