Computer Bandwagon

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 That is obsolete skill now.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.

2 comments left


Justin Gehring

Of course, if you learn how to program, it doesn’t matter how computers change… The fact of the matter is, logic is logic.

Coming to understand why the computer is doing what it’s doing before you’ve been told it is i an invaluable skill and very much like that of understanding why a human does what they do. In fact, as life may have it, I probably spend more time trying to map out human behavior to some logical pattern than I do computers…

But hey, I will be the first to tell you, this career path is not the piece of cake that people make it out to be sometimes…

Marketing though, is worse :-).

Richard Roche

That’s exactly why I would never want to be a web designer as a profession, even though it’s one of my favorite design hobbies to do in my free time. The never ending conquest for expanding knowledge and skill is what I love in any design category, but knowing that in a couple years time the knowledge would be obsolete would be devastating to my soul. However, as a hobby, I wouldn’t feel the pressure to be on the cutting edge all of the time.

But in more traditional graphic design, I like that I can buy and read Brockmann’s “Grid Systems in Graphic Design” and know that it is still just as relevant today and in the future as it was in 1961.

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