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Programming and Communication

2014-01-16 23:38:16.802215+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

@EccentricFlower tweeted:

I could make your lives easier in so many ways if you would just tell me exactly, and in some lucid form, what it is you're trying to do.

and in response I snarked that

.@EccentricFlower if they could tell you exactly & in some lucid form what they're trying to do, they'd have written the code to begin with.

And we then had the usual unproductive back-and-forth that Twitter limits us to, but I'm going to try a little more in depth here.

Our job as coders isn't translating human into computer. Or, if it is, that's a very small part of it. Our job is to clarify what people think the problem is, and then once we can express it, to type that in in a language that the computer understands.

Disentangling people from their fuzzy thinking, drawing out of them what problem they're really trying to solve, that's what we do. Without us trying to draw out that clarity of thought, we get the exchange that we've all had:

"It's broken."

"Tell me exactly what the error message says."

"It says it didn't work."

You can talk all you want about great communicators, and I'll grant you that there are a lot of people who are very good at manipulating humans into outcomes that meet business needs and enhance shareholder value, but if people can think logically and clearly and procedurally enough to articulate to us what the problem really is, then... well... then programming is just typing.

Trying to understand what people are trying to tell us, trying to get them to clarify their thoughts so that they're actually telling us what the problem is? That's programming.

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Software Engineering Work, productivity and environment Heinlein ]

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#Comment Re: made: 2014-01-17 03:15:43.760805+00 by: meuon

Excellent. And why 80% of my time is dealing with people, process and flow, and not actually doing anything with a computer.