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chromatic (983)

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Monday November 26, 2007
12:45 AM

Engineering Versus Art Versus Barely-Competent Monkeys

[ #34972 ]

But most of all I restrict choices because the number of people talented enough to make them is vanishingly small I count myself lucky in my career because I've worked with some pretty spectacular people, but even in the best of cases it was around 10% of the project and in none of the cases did those people more into support.


This is the reason I am against dynamic languages and all of the fan-boy parts of IT. IT is no-longer a hackers paradise populated only by people with a background in Computer Science, it is a discipline for the masses and as such the IT technologies and standards that we adopt should recognise that stopping the majority doing something stupid is the goal, because the smart guys can always cope.

Steve Jones, Engineering v Art the challenge of the masses v the talent

One important difference between a monkey and a talented developer is that the monkey is happy to push the button over and over and over again if he eventually gets a banana, while the talented developer says "Why do we have to push this button over and over again? Let's get rid of the need for that boring, repetitive work."

This is not a characteristic of only hackers in dynamic languages (although the use of an IDE to paper over the failings of certain static languages is an indictment of the designers of those languages; for as bad as pseudohashes turned out to be in Perl 5, they're no patch on the abomination which is anonymous inner classes in Java code -- just try to write well-factored GUI code without leaning heavily on that hideous syntax, and no, programming which primarily consists of selecting pre-written blocks of code with the mouse is monkey work, not actual programming).

It still baffles me that so-called architects can identify the problem ("Hey, we have a bunch of barely competent monkeys in IT!") but absolutely refuse to allow themselves to consider letting the hint of the solution the possibility of crossing their minds.

If natural selection actually worked in business settings, businesses that hired barely-competent monkeys for things they actually cared about would go out of business quickly and noisily, so that the rest of the world could point and laugh and learn. When was the last time you saw a sock puppet during the Superbowl? Yet here is yet another lament that "our IT department isn't smart enough to do its job without handholding".

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  • This blog by Steve Jones pricked my ears because it reminded me of another essay by 2 (?) English programmers that divided developers into gifted and ordinary.

    Finding that other essay is important, because it was linked from the web page of someone who on the same page had code doing dynamic programming in perl. I once found that page on the web, but have never been able to refind it.

    If I could find the other essay, I might be able to find the perl dynamic programming page.

    Who is this Steve Jones? Not the e