motz
divendres, 31. d’agost 2001

programming - it´s a phobia

i am moving this up, because there is already too much scrolling involved.

:)) buy it you are in, hombres. but still can´t say if mr. arieti would take it this way. but who cares anyhow. right now i don´t.

that programming has something to do with retreat, well can´t be denied in social terms. just looking around ...

"lose sight of the global consequences of their manipulations": well, actually who could blame them, slogging to find the right line of code; would be hard to keep track anyhow.

and the last part:

"the disorder itself is viewed as progressive, even the direction is regressive: well brian, didn´t you tell me, that if a piece of code survived somehow, it will be found and reused again??? just didn´t know before, that this all has to do with schizophrenia.

maybe i should have known better, because bob birge, i nice guy who played around with protein memory devices a long time ago told me: art is a bug, and in the arzifazi world a lot of people are working hard to proof this. one example is the piece swarm, even i like the people there. their purpose also is to play and to have fun with ideas and words. don´t even try to take it serious, too many around already tough. in the best case, you read it, and some ideas pop up, that´s the purpose behind it as always or in this story: that´s the game of the more and more visabled hand behind.

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programophobia

The notion in the Selfish Class (Brian and Joe play Zeitgeist diletantes and strip mine Dawkins, which kind of worked, actually) was
that it's easier for good code to become bad than for bad code to become good. Good code is easy to change, until it becomes bad. Bad code is hard to understand, and therefore hard to change. (Selfish is at www.laputan.org). If you were a chunk of code, and wanted to become ubiquitous, what would you do? The idea that disorder is viewed as progressive even as structure erodes (regresses) is a good description of what happens to normal "waterfall" systems as they are forced to confront change, whether they like it or not. That the establishment would characterize this stage as progress is a sad commentary, but is a late stage phenomenon when refactoring (repair) is neglected. It need not be this way, but too often is, to the point where it is regarded as inevitable. The phobia comes in when programmers know they are treating the immediate symptom, and ignoring potential side effects...

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if i would be

a chunk of bad code and selfish i would adapt the common easy going notion: there is nothing better coming from behind. good code as you say is always standing in competition, is taking an active role, while bad code don´t even has to try to hide. it can stand in its corner and watch the scene. it can choose its host freely, so to say. and one day someone will find out: we need this freeloader for the sake of the ecosystem. but if good code becomes bad code, the circle is closed, and that´s a little bit too optimistic, no?. i mean who likes happy ends :))

coming back from an interview with an enoying happy person, being proud of tradition. a bad code that survived??

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Definitely

I do like happy endings.

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i don´t know

es posible to use happy ends in term of happyness ends here or simplemente happy end or happy ending. no sé. both should be posible as far as i am concerned.

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This is about

happiness not ends or endings. Not anything do we know about where the ends and endings are. In stories though i like the happy endings a lot more than the sad ones.

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Re/Pro Gression

Go we do but where?

As good old papa Weizenbaum describes in his now outdated book "Computer Power and Human Reason" with the poor programmer debugging an assembly language routine on a cpu time limited mainframe computer in mind, debugging under time pressure and - i might add without the right tools and environment - is exactly the sort of situation where phobia strikes heavily.

As to the schizophrenia which in my opinion is more like a disorder that comes naturally with the notion of strict geometrical order the question is which sort of order forces disorder. Big waterfall systems do for sure.

Extensive reading and writing both demand regression==retreat.

For the programmer to know that his writing need not only be readable by the computer but usable by other human beings brings in some kind of stress. Without adequate tools and cooperation she has to bear it all in and by her mind.

Splits you up in a way.

More on why this might be still so now in many programming communities soon.

Brian: please note that the European software culture has some additional deficiencies as compared to the American. For many years now it tries to emulate what you do over there and mostly by indedequate means. Given that you're in a struggle yourselves ....

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and the circle closes

if for the programmer to know that his writing needs not only be readable by the computer but usable by other human beings who needs it anyhow? it`s not healthy, never can stay good and sake and has to be thrown away in any case somewhere, somehow.
at least in my profession i know, it willl be just out there in a certain timewindow, and buff.gone. no recall, no overwork, maybe repetition, private satisfaction. people, who not even get this anymore start to write a book.

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What about

those fantastic digital archives of the future? Accessible to all interested? You don't believe?

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i always

was bad in believing. i am not god that i have too

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Eurohacking

I'd be interested in hearing more about the differences you percieve between Euro and Yankee programming styles, cultures, and practices. What do you percieve as deficient on your side? Undercapitalization? Critical mass? Sociocultural styles? Access to universities? I presume that, like us, you wind up building Ball of Mud systems most of the time, however good your intentions might have been. I'll go out on a limb and speculate that this offends the Teutonic engineering tradition's passion for perfection more than the Yankee shadetree mechanic duct tape and bailing wire good enuf ethos :-) In other words, we all do it, but the cognitive dissonance that results is more intensely painful for perfectionists...

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Re: Eurohacking

There's something to your argument, but: the intensity of dissonance pain is hard to quantizise. No, seriously, I tried to express some real differences that have to do with the long time to create a culture and historical roots of/for that culture.
In my perception (mainly based on reading) the US of A as a community have built a broader and deeper and more connected culture around electronic digital handicraft and mindcraft. Europe as a community has troubles admitting that America could be better than it in anything but bubblegum and action movies. Wernher von Braun built your rockets, didn't he? There's a lot of that old cultural superiority feeling. Not admitting weakness strengthens it mostly.

What you said about dissonance pain would apply to Germany and France, two perfectionist countries, mostly. In Austria we're very much duct tape and bailing wire, so the real teutons don't take us for professionals. But our rooting in preliteral culture and feudalism is strong and working in mysterious ways.

This does'nt mean there's no excellense here, i'm talking statistical average and structure.

I'm not sure if undercapitalization is a problem, rather underbudgeting of good projects vs overbudgeting of buzzy projects. Europe's got money enough. For 3 years until last summer it was rather overcap. Understaffing really is a BIG problem over here for more than one reason. Even otherwise good people care not enough for building staff. Lots of working power is secured and blocked in bureaucracies. Broad- and deepness of digital (?)culture is small and superficious. Incompetent money might be worse than none. One and a half years ago guys who were good at buzzword bingo and knew a bit about how to script Macromind Director got jobs as CTOs. Many of the better ones dream of going to California. CEOs of larger companies don't want to know about technologies. Venture capital is extremely incompetent in the domain area. Bricklin and Kapor should atone for making it possible to turn the screws until any business plan looks good to business only people. What I say here tries to describe the overall situation.

Problem: A bit more of "reality distortion" on the old continent.
Hope: A motivation for doing "really better is better" is burgeoning. Little plants need sun, water, love.

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