Lately i keep seeing articles like the one linked here. This idea that we developers like to promote, that its all havoc and mess (like this article itself is) does two things, perfectly well:
- keeps people off this industry as a career option
- makes everyone else think we’re simply lucky that the first ones want more out of life.
Number one is simply another form of brogramming while number two is a great risk to each generation entering this field to have a really crappy life and a really late retirement.
Its a funny article and i did laugh a lot. At first i thought about translating it but then i realized i’d be only sponsoring a state of fact which i really dislike: greasy bacon. The bacon culture is eating out our craft, and I don’t like it. We seem to somehow be proud of this. To quote someone I look up to, we’re flying a rocket and keep working at the engines and while for teenager adventure spirit this sounds cool, in reality it is not.
We live in a non critical world. We make project management software, email clients, check in apps, messengers, shops, friend lists etcetera and we can live with all these being flaky, down, unresponsive and what not and also we laugh at the funny “we’re sorry the cat chewed our network plug” PR stunts at the end of a downtime. But what will happen when the same code and the same programmers will make code running the electric grid? Your car? Nuclear power plants? We’re not far from that, you know.
You’ve heard the crap that exploded at healthcare.org and you’ll see even more than that in the next fifty years. So far there is no technological breakthrough that somehow magically takes care of our stupidity, so therefore we need to manage it ourselves. What do we do instead? We make fun of how bad our code is and feel like artists that create snowflakes. Its wrong! We’re artists that create snow! You and I are part of the gigantic team that currently transforms the planet. We are driving home the future. With every new feature you learn and use, with every new tool you open source, with every new product that excels online, we’re building — carving — our way into the future where the Internet will be that huge abyss of everything and we’ll use it to live forever, know everything, cure our diseases in 2 hours and have a lifetime of leisure.
You know its possible don’t you? You may think that your work doesn’t matter, that, like everyone else, a “small cog” in the system is irrelevant. But its wrong! You are a golden cog in the fanciest and most promising system humanity has built in the last one million years! You are paid and catered for as if you were a golden cog right? I mean you must see the difference between you awesome job as a programmer and the people who, for example, do accounting work and go home after ten hours of pushing numbers into tables.
So while you’re being treated like a golden cog you behave — even feel — like a tin one. Why? Why would you consent to knowing a zillion tools and not a single one at expert level? Why when asked to support your choices you always revert to personal subjective preference instead of building up a case for what you stand for? Why don’t you contribute back? ☺ Why do you actually “save” code that you know to be wrong? Why don’t you ask for code reviews? Why don’t you do code reviews? Because you are lazy, you like eating bacon and coding with greasy hands and i hate looking at your keyboard ☺But its cool, isn’t it? It is, until people’s life will depend on it.
In the non critical world we can afford bridges held in place by strings we have no clue about, but if it were a real bridge ran by our web software would you still hack your solutions knowing your children go trough there every day to school?
I believe not. Actually the truth is that you may not be in a critical industry, right? Without the free lunch, leisure like system that being a programmer nowadays means, would you be still be sweating code?
I think we should be mindful when we compare to other lines of work. In general we do easy work, while filled with effort — from carpal to back problems and lower fertility, to the endless hours of mind stress — yet compared to 99% of what’s out there we are faring way better. So stop whining that programming sucks and get better at it. Its your job and it should be your pleasure.