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Re: Re: On being a programmer

by merlyn (Sage)
on Dec 28, 2000 at 22:29 UTC ( #48655=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: On being a programmer
in thread How to debug unknown dynamic code?

However, from my humble point of view it seems to me that if indeed they aren't wired the right way there's a problem with the interface not the people.
Nope. Some people just don't get abstraction or clear sequential logic, or many of the other things necessary to write maintainable, practical code.

Ever ask someone for directions to a place you're unfamiliar with, and end up totally lost? Probably because that person couldn't give clear directions, ever. Some people just can't do that.

And some people just can't program. It's not the interface. It's the person.

There's no moral statement here. It's just an attribute. I can't draw a picture worth beans. Am I less smart because of that? No. I just stick to programming, and hire the people who can draw and can't program. {grin}

-- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

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Re: Re: Re: On being a programmer
by coreolyn (Parson) on Dec 28, 2000 at 22:46 UTC

    Logic tells me your right... My heart argues otherwise, but I confess my heart hasn't found a way to pay a bill yet. :)

    coreolyn Duct tape devotee and dreamer


      FWIW, I tend to agree with you. While I cannot dispute the fact that some people should not program, I am uneasy with the idea that good programming can only occur if you are fortunate enough to possess the right gene.

      I will concede that inate talent has an important effect, but I also believe that some people can rise above their (ahem) genetic flaws and accomplish great things.

      As an example, Mozart is generally considered far more brilliant than Salieri, however, some of the latter's works are quite artistic and beautiful. Certainly they do not compare to the former's achievements and undoubtedly resulted from much hard work and discipline. Talent certainly allowed Mozart to succeed far more quickly, but Salieri was still able to work his way to modest success and recognition. (He was, after all, Court Composer.)

      I personally find it dangerous to pin labels on individuals. Not only am I frequently wrong in my assessments, but I am just as frequently surprised when those folks far exceed the limits imposed by my presumptions.

      Perhaps another example can be found with Einstein, who has been described as having difficulty with school* and yet managed to express general and special relativity. Or Lincoln, who failed in business, had been defeated in earlier elections, and suffered many other setbacks. Yet, he is lionized by many as one of the best Presidents we've ever had.

      Yes, some people should not program. However, I don't believe it's our place to judge another's fitness for that task, unless (of course) we're in a management role and that's an entirely different discipline altogether.


      Update: Reworked the reference to Einstein.

      * Sources:

      Note that all links were active at the time of posting.

      Updated 2008.08.13 by footpad: Fixed broken superscript tags. Thanks MidLifeXis

        Einstein, who failed fourth grade math and yet managed to express general and special relativity.
        Well, not that it undermines your entire argument, but this is false, or so I'm told by some of Einstein's offspring in a letter to the editor of one of the science magazines I was reading in high school.

        Apparently, at the school Einstein attended for 4th grade, they had an unusual grading system, where the lower numbers meant the higher grade, so that "1" = very good while "4" = very poor. Einstein got "1"s in math. Some journalist came across this data, and without verifying the context, got the rumor going around that "Einstein flunked 4th grade math", when in fact it was quite the opposite; he'd scored the highest possible grades!

        No, sorry, I don't recall the precise source any more, but it was a reputable magazine (Discovery magazine, or Science magazine, or something like that).

        -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker


        Thank you for your response1(damn I'm outta votes!). I think you nailed the underlying issue that was bothering me but I couldn't get my finger on, that being the "judgement of fitness".

        Some of us learned how to program in a vacume, without books or teachers, and yes there are a lot of bad habits that need to be broken from such an education. Although I still can't see a debugger as a bad habit -- it's just another tool.

        There are so few that even attempt to code, and such harsh judgements only serve to detract from the education that such judges are trying to teach.

        Telling a child that they are stupid when they do something wrong does not teach them how to do something right, it only re-enforces a sense of futility.


        1Great Mozart / Salieri comparison

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