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human after all

Betsy Haibel on Hacker Mythologies and Mismanagement has done a great job of deconstructing the image of programmer as a lonely wolf. Each point is a score:

We think of ourselves as having elevated intellects and intellectual preoccupations: as uniquely picky about working on “interesting” problems. We self-aggrandize. We tell ourselves that we are intellectually superior to everyone else, and that raw intellect — directed to the right places — is the most important thing. We believe that “the most obvious common ‘personality’ characteristics of hackers are high intelligence, consuming curiosity, and facility with intellectual abstractions.”

Totally nailed it. Honestly, this is just a kind of article that I wish I’d written myself. Essential read. In the meantime, one more great quote:

But these beliefs about who we are are actually about what makes us feel special.

In other words, software engineers are humans.

As humans, we lie to ourselves. We lie to ourselves about who we are. (We’re smarter than you.) We lie to ourselves about what we do. (We are changing the world, one photo-sharing app at a time.) We lie to ourselves about how best to do it. (In caves.)

Isn’t it adorable that the programmers need to be reminded about their own humanity? And they really do! The concepts, frameworks and implementations we live and breathe are still disconnected enough from the common discourse that it’s easy to forget that programming is a form of human activity. It’s not a way of escaping or transcending human activities. Cartesian dualism of mind and body might have been heavily criticized and deconstructed in the social science, but it’s still surprisingly strong in the self-image of a software developer.

Seriously, how can it be? I find it fascinating, stunning and ludicrous.

Published on 25/03/2015.
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