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Re: Hackers, Writers, and Productivity

by Trimbach (Curate)
on Mar 17, 2001 at 04:18 UTC ( #65079=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Hackers, Writers, and Productivity

I think programming is exactly like the work of the author/artist. Larry (capital "L") is right on target making the assertion that computer languages ought to be like other human languages with their idioms and slang and 32 different words for snow. The creative, productive, beautiful expression of language is hard and not everyone does it well, or does it fast.

When you want to measure programming "productivity" you can't apply the same measures you do in other fields. The productivity of a typist (for example) can be measured in keystokes per hour; the faster, more accurate you are, the more productive you are.

Authors, on the other hand, are judged far differently. Harper Lee published exactly one book her entire life ("To Kill a Mockingbird") and it is judged a classic and the author is highly praised. L. Ron Hubbard published thousands (and thousands, and thousands...) of pages, but nothing he wrote was as well regarded as Mockingbird. Who is more productive?

The answer depends on your perspective... Hubbard probably made more money, both for himself and his publishers. No matter what the quality I sure as heck would want him writing for me if money was what I cared about. If I wanted art I'd hire Lee, but I'd probably go out of business waiting on her to crank her (clearly superior) work.

The productive programmer is in the same boat as the productive author: What are your goals? When would you like to achieve them? How much are you willing to spend? The questions are the same whether you are writing books or CGI's.

Gary Blackburn
Trained Killer

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