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    Ignoring the (pointless) pessimism of the rest of the article, I’m curious why some people say silly stuff like this:

    It doesn’t help that Hollywood has cast the ‘coder’ as a socially challenged, type-first-think-later hacker, inevitably white and male

    This is simply not true anymore. Back in the 90s, maybe, but certainly not today. Just in the last week I’ve watched a number of major franchises where this couldn’t be farther from the truth; Fast and Furious, one of the most stereotypical thoughtless Hollywood franchises around, just featured 2 hacker characters, both female, one of them black, both of them suave. Agents of Shield, the hacker character is a personable Chinese-American woman. Mr. Robot, the most popular show about hackers in decades, features an Egyptian lead (who is socially challenged, but more in a schizophrenic drug addict way than the 90s hacker nerd way) and a diverse cast of hacker accomplices. I can’t imagine that the author actually put any though into this statement; it seems like they just wanted to pad their article and this was an easy thing to hand-wave.

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      I feel like Hollywood either plays the socially defective white (or Asian) male trope hard, or subverts it with a gorgeous woman, often of color, with above-average social skills. Which is fine– diversity is a good thing, both in depiction and reality– but trope plus anti-trope does not equal the whole field.

      What I think needs to be said about programmers is that, as people, we’re not especially different. Some of us are socially defective, and some are suave, and some are charming psychopaths, and some are just ordinary folks. Some of us are white women, some are black men, some are 17, and some are 70. However, what we do is unusual and makes us different. It’s not fair to expect us to be socially available (and, especially, visible from behind in a humiliating open-plan setup) for 8 hours because the job requires concentration at a level that most jobs don’t. Who can and can’t do it, that’s a foolish discussion to have. The point is that the job is hard and its cognitive demands are incompatible with corporate expectations. That’s what defines us, not some underlying “hacker” trait.

      The OP may not get it right how Hollywood misrepresents us, but it does get us wrong. It assumes, for example, that most of us are socially unpleasant. Most of us can be socially pleasant. We just have to decide between social polish and our jobs, because you can’t get into flow and take interruptions as nicely as most business types (who haven’t had to think about anything hard since college) want.

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      Coding is a creative exercise. When treated as a hobby and for the sake of a response to this article (and not really anywhere else) I would liken it to drawing, which can be very technical and mistake prone. It takes time and patience and concentration to learn how to draw well. Drawing is fun.

      We can distill this down to: “Hobbies are fun”. If they weren’t then people wouldn’t have any. You can’t compare hobby coding to brain surgery or structural engineering, because those are never hobbies.

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        I didn’t bother reading the article, due to the blatant false dichotomy in the title. But, hobbyist structural engineers certainly do exist. (Not so sure about brain surgeons.)

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        At least one assertion in the article is disputed by my experience: “Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten.”

        Most programmers I’ve worked with, even experienced ones, were guilty of one or more of: bad spelling, inconsistent variable naming, overlooked details, and other forms of substandard code. I’m sure I’m guilty of some of these too, except for bad spelling perhaps.

        If most programmers are like that, then it certainly can’t be a prerequisite for being a programmer.

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          “Manic attention to detail” is also a contradiction in terms. A person who is manic is quite likely a danger to himself and others. It’s hard to concentrate at all during a manic episode. The less severe hypomania is, perhaps, sometimes beneficial.

          It’s also quite true that a lot of terrible stuff happens in so-called “professional” code that shouldn’t, but that’s not news to any of us.

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          I like the title and concept. I wish that he had done more with it.

          Programming can be fun. Computer science is a fascinating field and there’s more than several lifetimes’ worth of cool stuff to learn (or, for those who get into research, newly discover). Programming for work, for most people, isn’t fun. It’s painful and most people don’t survive for more than 10 years, and it’s not the coding part that drives them out. And yes, it’s ethically very complicated because you’re often selling your sword to corporations that are making the world worse.

          The challenge, I would say, comes not from the technical difficulty of most work assignments but from the combination of social and intellectual demands in a way that most people can’t tolerate. Context switches are deadly for people doing hard things (e.g. programmers, fiction writers) and most people in business stopped doing hard things when they realized they could still get through college on a ho-hum effort. So you have people who want to get into flow and solve hard problems answering to people who don’t understand why hourly status pings are such a big deal. Some people play the cards well (i.e. they’re good programmers) and others play the people well (and advance into management despite technical ignorance) but it’s very rare that you see someone who can play the cards and people at the same time.

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            Boy I bet this person is real fun at parties.