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Programming as religion

Disclaimer: I might be too tired to write this right now, but here goes...
What *is* programming to most people? A means to an end? An enjoyable job? A boring job? Just a job? More than a life?

I ask because for me there is a definitely something "more" to programming than just doing it. Call it an element of Zen or whatever, but really programming has more to it than just doing a job.

I wonder about algorithms, implementation, testing, quality, technologies, bla dish wop dang, etc etc. In short, programming and its related fields have a major fascination for me, actually more than just a fascination. I *want* to do right. It's closer to a religion than it is to a major interest.

So. I'm a programming evangelist I suppose. For me it is a way of life.

-- short digression :) --
This does NOT mean I spend all my waking hours programming or just doing programming related things (read: not a saddo that projected lack of romantic partner unto programming). I am involved in a long-term relationship ;)
I do have dogs, I do actually do other things as well, so let me get back to my original point :)
-- /short digression :) --

Do you feel that there is more too programming than just working? If you do what is it? Is it because it is a creative process? Is it because you work with probably the most complex piece of machinery on the planet? Is it because you play god in a small way? Do you want to create "the best" or "the nicest" or "the most impressive" or, basically the most rewarding thing? Does this burn in you, and do you read everything on programming with passion? Do you try too do "right" while programming?

I have to preemptively clarify something here: I'm not talking about idealism here. I feel that I am thoroughly pragmatic. Reality and practical considerations have more value for me than some sort of unpractical treatise on the mathematical modeling of the behaviour of fork-tailed drongos. So I'm not on about in-depth mathematical PHD treatises or some such.

I'm on about experiencing programming as a form of self-expression, and positive one at that.

Do anyone else feel like this out there? If so, how to communicate and / or instill this in (to) others? How to transfer that spirit to other people working with (and above) you?

PS all cynical people: I've been in the industry for some time, so this not a newbie waxing lyrical ;)

Gerrie Swart
Monday, October 06, 2003

You're totally correct. Programming at its best is a fusion of mathematics, art, craft, and engineering.

One big problem with our industry is that the self-inversion that is necessary to operate at this level makes us one of the most socially isolated and exploitable occupations around. 

IE: the work is so absorbing and so rich in "texture" that most really good programmers find it extremely difficult to raise their heads and realize that their job is being outsourced to the third world or that they are being "used" unfairly.

It's a real paradox. Many of us are akin to engineering/math "philosopher kings" in production, self image and mentality, but we get the respect of the janitor...

Bored Bystander
Monday, October 06, 2003

[You're totally correct. Programming at its best is a fusion of mathematics, art, craft, and engineering. ]

I would also add: business.

I submit that many of the problems we face as developers arise because we get caught up in the "programming as art form" and forget about the goal of delivering products people want to use/buy.

Remember, most of the great artists died poor and unknown, so we don't want to follow that analogy too closely. I see no reason why we can't be artists that make a buck at the same time.

anon
Monday, October 06, 2003

"we get the respect of the janitor..."

I wonder if it has anything to do with what this article is about - anyone with kids relate to it???

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers_pr.html

Java Pro
Monday, October 06, 2003

There's a simple solution - give geeks the social credit they deserve.

If we can get widespread *social* recognition for the high IQ's that generally get *monetary* recognition, then it's a short step to geeks being the new superstars.

Then all the high-IQ guys will be marrying supermodels and you won't have the dual-high-IQ parent problem any more.

[grinning, ducking, running]

Philo

Philo
Monday, October 06, 2003

""we get the respect of the janitor..."

I wonder if it has anything to do with what this article is about - anyone with kids relate to it???

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers_pr.html "

I can relate to that, because my son suffers from Sensory Integration Disorder, which falls within the spectrum of autism.  As he went through occupational therapy, I recognized a number of his behaviors and hangups as things I experienced as a child, albeit to a lesser degree.

That was a fascinating link.  Thank you.

Norrick
Monday, October 06, 2003

This article scares me, and has made me think twice about having children.  Me: computer geek.  Girlfriend: Book geek.  Neither of us are social superstars.  Our children are doomed I say.  Doomed.

too geeky
Monday, October 06, 2003

There might be a small bit of truth to the Wired article. I worked with a SW engineer at one client who was an übergeek to the max. Strange facial tics, jabbery speech patterns, absolute non eye contact, total inability to do even rudimentary social gestures of acceptance (like say to someone "you did good work there"), really hung up on his pure expertise.  His son is autistic, and that's the only autistic kid I personally know of.

Bored Bystander
Monday, October 06, 2003

Philo,

I think there's a hole in your logic.  If society were to some how suddenly laud the intelligent as the "beautiful people," then wouldn't smart guys, the new jocks, still date smart girls, the new cheer leaders?  Sure, in your New World, we jocky nerds could date super models, but would that be seen as a mercy date?

Andrew Burton
Monday, October 06, 2003

I don't know. I married a cheerleader, so I can't really say.

Philo

Philo
Monday, October 06, 2003

I know adults who are like the kid in the article... don't really understand what's going on and just start talking about something that's interesting to them without noticing how bored everyone else is... Didn't think it was autism, just a certain level of insensitivity to certain situations.

I think there is a hole in Philo's logic too.. Why would a smart person want to date a dumb person any more than a beautiful person would want to date an ugly person?

Mark T A W .com
Monday, October 06, 2003

[I think there is a hole in Philo's logic too.. Why would a smart person want to date a dumb person any more than a beautiful person would want to date an ugly person? ]

Yeah, and the term "trophy wife" really refers to wives who are great athletes.

anon
Monday, October 06, 2003

I guess Philo is saying that programmers would be akin to Rock Stars... you know, the ugly rock stars who date supermodels.

I guess the problem here is that being a Rock Star implies and embodies relating to the public in a certain way, empathisizing and being emoting, and being a programmer requires a certain level of isolated, introverted behaviour.

Mark T A W .com
Monday, October 06, 2003

"I guess Philo is saying that programmers would be akin to Rock Stars... you know, the ugly rock stars who date supermodels."

HELLO, CLEVELAND!  Are you ready to syncronize your desktop applications with your iSeries database!?!

Hmm...  Maybe not. ;)

Okay, back to work...

Andrew Burton
Monday, October 06, 2003

To quote one "rock star"
"Developers, Developers, Developers...."

Hmm maybe...

too geeky
Monday, October 06, 2003

During the dot com boom, I started feeling like a rock star.  Aaah the good ole days. 

too geeky
Monday, October 06, 2003

Programmers are more like roadies than rock stars and twas ever thus.

That I was actually a roadie before I ever did anything with computers is somehow not comforting.

Simon Lucy
Monday, October 06, 2003

Was there an original topic or have we always been talking about trophy wives, athletes and rock stars?

Tony Chang
Monday, October 06, 2003

Sorry, I was programming too hard last night and I can't remember anything...

Mark T A W .com
Monday, October 06, 2003

Bored Bystander & anon,
As I see it, the respect remark and the remark about business skills go together. Business people generally have no clue about what we do, they care about other things. Our immersion in our world has little business value for them. As such, a way to increase respect might be to package our skills in a way that business people understand.

anon,
Re “programming as art form”. I believe quite a few people do actually go beyond seeing programming as artistic expression, and make a buck at the same time :) It is all part of what makes programming great ;)

Re: article.
Fascinating. I also met a few weirdos (especially at university) that definitely have some of the symptoms mentioned. But not all IT couples consist of programmer-programmer unions, so we can but hope that we get some cross-pollination (I’ll give them intelligence, you give the kids looks and keep the autism away).

Philo,
Some of us already get the supermodels ;)
(those who do, please give us a howto)
Maybe making lots of money helps…

Re having kids in general:
In future, I’ll blame the risk of autism etc as the cause of my unwillingness to commit to having the burping, screaming, sh*tting little money-eaters :)))

I wonder BTW if the link between lack of social skills and geekiness might not have a link that goes in the other direction. Say, someone has a lack of social graces, and as such gets no reward for social interaction. So he/she develops analytical skills as a way to get personal reward?

Back to a question that bugs me: if you feel programming is a religious experience, is there a way to get other programmers to feel this too?

Gerrie Swart
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

>HELLO, CLEVELAND!  Are you ready to syncronize
>your desktop applications with your iSeries database!?!

ROTFLMFAO!!

Rockstar Wannabe
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

> I wonder BTW if the link between lack of social skills and geekiness might not have a link that goes in the other direction. <

Dunno. I've seen some people who have a certain lack of social skills, but no real lack of throwing themselves into social situations... They can't read others, and just sort of belligerently stumble their way through, sometimes in a drunken stupor, sometimes stoned, sometimes sober... Always relatively ignorant of the people around them and apt to repeat the same boring stories, or give you new boring stories. Some of them are actually entertaining... until you've heard the same story 50 times.

Mark T A W .com
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Yes. Noticed them, the bulldozer-pricks with contraceptive personalities strapped on. Probably what happens if you fail to learn any other skill to make up for your social ineptness, hehe ;)

Gerrie Swart
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

"Yes. Noticed them, the bulldozer-pricks with contraceptive personalities strapped on."

Just wanted to say, this is an absolutely wonderful turn of phrase.  Might start turning up in .sigs.

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

"I don't know. I married a cheerleader, so I can't really say.

Philo"

"GIMME A P! GIMME AN H! GIMME AN I! GIMME AN L..."

Just imagining this is what you come home to every night.  Must be a nice life :).

Me, I got a 19 month old boy who says "Dada!" when I come through the door, like Ed McMahon announcing Johny Carson. So I can't complain (get back to me when he's a teenager, though...).

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

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http://www.i-wayhost.net

Arun Kumar Tibrewal
Saturday, October 11, 2003

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