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There was this data entry person (not a programmer at all) whose task was manually sending some partially prewritten emails to customers daily. Then, he was told how to use MS Word mail merge feature to make his work easier.

In order to use mail merge, one need to know how to use "table," how to "query" or "sort" data, etc--the basic SQL stuff actually. Out of curiosity and necessity, he learnt more and more about data manipulation. Yada, yada, a few months later, he became a DBA.

On the opposite of the spectrum, some office workers often need to use spreadsheet to do stuff, which sometimes involved some very minor macro-like programming. Often some of them asked some techie people in the office for help, who might try to teach them how to do it themselves. Nonetheless, some of those workers's response might basically be, "please do it for me," and then walking away. No curiosity, no learning, no improved productivity.

It is a good thing (or sometimes mixed blessing) that these days software spares people from having to memorize too much stuff with the help of text sensitive help, syntax high light, object explorer, etc. Vastly different from the punch card era the way people programmed in, say, Fortran. By and large, it's a good thing. It vastly increases the size of the programming community. So many "amateur" programmers these days, who contribute to the CS field and industry in a way impossible if done by academia alone. After all, Perl has been being developed by many "amateur," along with a score of other folks.


In reply to Re: In praise of curiosity by chunlou
in thread In praise of curiosity by gmax

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