Marco Dorantes' WebLog

"Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes" -Edsger W. Dijkstra

What do we –really– mean by 'coding'?

What do we –really– mean by 'coding'?

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Suppose a young member of the developer role in your next project team approaches to you (member of the architect role in the same project) and said: —I will be coding as part of my role in our project and I am looking for further understanding of how my work will be related to actual business value. Could you –as seasoned software professional– please share your insights with me?

What would be your answer?

  1. Young subordinate: your main task —as a necessary evil— will be mechanical and repetitive because all intellectual and engaging artwork will be exclusively done by me and my peers; please be prepared to eagerly follow our direct commands and to strictly follow our plans, doing whatever required extra effort in order to hit established milestones on time. Your association with business value is that and the same of the cheap labor force in well established economies of scale, that is, the execution of industrialized tasks by expendable and interchangeable human resources. You know, it is the real world and nothing can be done about it. No problem at all, it’s my pleasure to clarify.

  2. Young peer: first of all let me thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective on such an important question of yours; second, let me please clarify that coding is –actually– another name for a design activity which is part of a continuous flux of learning experiences shared by all members of the team. You, along with the rest of project team members, will be doing software design which is a cooperative endeavor to tackle the complexity coming from a number of dimensions like people, process, product and technology; we need all your intellectual power, critical thinking and energy to keep a balanced mix of problem-solving, creativity and tactical execution as the project unfolds. Join us, we are about to review current business priorities with the customer...

  3. Please excuse me but I’m really not the right person to answer your question because I’m not in a position that has exposure to such level of fine-grained details so I don’t know what you are going to be doing and how that is related with business value.

  4. Next possible answer...

Now, please assume that you are fully aware of a secondary purpose for the approaching developer in your project, who also is a senior researcher, to report back to general scientific community a current, actual, reliable and justified characterization of the ‘coding’ activity.

Please re-read the proposed answers and re-think your own answer so far but now with this new perspective in mind.

Would you change your answer? Which would it be now? Why?

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