routine, practice, and software engineering

Routine is healthy. Animals and children need it. It's good for adults too. It can be taken too far but by and large, a routine can be a good thing.

Practice is laudable. It makes you better at your craft. It's just what you do when you want to be good at something.

Software, oh software.  Programming a computer is great because you write a thing once, and then THE COMPUTER DOES IT FOR YOU. You're done. You can check out. And the story of being a software engineer is the story of understanding problems, solving them in code once, and then letting the computer solve them from that point forward. If you never revisit your code, it might be because you did it right.

There's a disconnect here. As a programmer I'm attracted to the idea that I can solve a new problem every day, and accrue a mountain of functionality on which to perch, a labyrinth of routines and subroutines from which I need never venture. But if I ever succeeded, my very success would drive me mad from boredom. As a human animal I need the routine of solving problems. I need the practice to hone my skill. But my very success sabotages my own mental health. At large scale, it is a delicious psychological vignette.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, I know we've talked about it before, but it's so funny how different that is from the world of fine art, where the low-level *doing* of the task can be considered almost sacred. Things made "by hand" have an extra value (though the automaters, the printers and manufacturers, still almost always come out ahead financially in the long run).

    Haha, I want to go on and on about this, but every statement I think of tends to have a lot of exceptions or isn't quite true when looked at from certain angles... maybe I'll have to think up a post of my own.

    In the meantime, at least you can make a pretty safe bet that the world will never run out of problems to be solved. ;)