Computer programming teaches you to think logically, optimize for speed, relevancy, etc., and structure your thinking within a world where there are set rules. (Incidentally, that previous link points to one of the most insightful articles I have ever read — it’s about who nerds are, and proper care/feeding of nerds. If you haven’t read it… seriously, man, read it. And technically, I should say “seriously, lady” because the article is most useful to a woman looking at a nerd or nerd-like significant other. Anyhow, let’s break out of this parenthetical statement. BUT, before we do, note to self: install footnotes on the next revision of the tumbledry formatting system. That way, diversions such as this will end up at the bottom of the article in… a footnote.) So, this endless logic game within a world where the entire system is known is an excellent exercise for the mind. Indeed, I enjoy the exercise. However, I’ve never quite been able to articulate why a profession (above and beyond a hobby) in the programming arena does not appeal to me. Thankfully, somebody spoke my mind on the issue in a comment attached to a recent Slashdot article entitled “Obsolete Technical Skills”:
I’ve been thinking about retiring - I’m 34 years old. I think I’d be happier if I’d jump off the bandwagon and started doing something totally different. Something that would not require me to study all the time and be stressed all the time.
I grew up with home computers. I learned BASIC when I was 11. That is obsolete skill now. Then I got my first PC in 1988 and learned DOS. That’s obsolete. Then I learned Borland’s Turbo Pascal. That’s obsolete. Then I learned Microsoft C programming and started programming Windows 3.1 applications that used Windows menus etc. That’s obsolete. I learned Gopher and Telnet in the 80s. That’s obsolete. I learned Pine. That’s obsolete. I learned to tweak Windows 95 registry. That’s obsolete. I learned BEA Tuxedo at work. That’s obsolete. Looking at it now - I’ve wasted countless of hours to something that is totally obsolete now! Had I invested that time into improving myself - learning who I am, how I behave, how to enjoy this life - I would be much happier now I guess.
Certainly, all of us learn skills that become obsolete and there is value in comparing evolving programming solutions, BUT I think this commenter is saying that there can be great satisfaction in investing time and energy in things which will return emotional, artistic, or intellectual dividends for many years to come.
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