re: Developer is the next blue collar job VIEW POST

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Good article, brings up a few points I've given a lot of thought to over the years.

Here are my two cents:

I think we use "software developer" too broadly. Someone solving really hard problems for NASA and someone coding landing pages have roughly the same title.

And yet, we talk about interviews, gatekeeping and tooling as though there was a one-size-fits-all.

Our industry is very young and culturally rooted on anyone-in-their-basement-can-beat-the-establishment. I think that's why it hasn't adopted a more hierarchical and professionalized structure like doctors, architects, civil engineers, and so on.

But in my opinion, it will. At some point, we need to accept that there are different jobs that require different skills. Some jobs are harder and require a steeper learning curve and a higher education level. Others are easier. Others save lives. Others end them. Not judging a book by its cover doesn't mean all books are the same. And we need to distinguish and verify who is allowed to do what.

I also think (and wish) the long-term future will look less like:

"I am a lawyer and we have a developer automating our contracts"

and more like:

"I am a lawyer and a part of my job is to automate my firm's contracts"

(Replace lawyer with any other profession. The idea is that basic coding skills will be like writing or using an excel sheet now. Duh, of course I code)

 

Someone solving really hard problems for NASA and someone coding landing pages have roughly the same title.

Are they though? Coding is not hard. Coding well is extremely difficult. And this idea that anyone just starting can do it (for a production environment (for a bank no less)) is dangerous. There are different problems being faced by both of those engineers, but neither of them is without a massive pool of domain knowledge necessary to do them well.

 

If I understand you correctly, I think we're on the same wavelength here.

I was referring to the title names. I've seen companies with very simple products and little to no Quality Assurance processes look for Senior Software Engineers. And I believe we should not be using the term "Engineering" so lightly.

 

"I am a lawyer and a part of my job is to automate my firm's contracts"

Isn't this why we gave them Excel, the most widely used image based programming environment in the world?

My partner was writing an Excel macro yesterday. I told them - you're programming! But they said - no, I'm not - I'm not a programmer; I was just using Excel.

So I said - when you're writing an email, you're writing. But you're not a writer. There are professional writers, specialists in copywriting or fiction writing or journalist, but everyone can write and often does in their jobs.

We need to stop thinking in terms of the magic black terminal screens and walls of indented text when we talk about the democratization of programming. It's already happened - Microsoft Excel is an interactive development environment in the style of Smalltalk and Lisp.

Things like Jupyter notebooks are also improving the situation. Ergonomics of existing languages is a red herring.

Our industry is very young and culturally rooted on anyone-in-their-basement-can-beat-the-establishment. I think that's why it hasn't adopted a more hierarchical and professionalized structure like doctors, architects, civil engineers, and so on.

I think you're placing the cultural cart before the economic horse here. The reason we haven't professionalized is because there's been no need to - demand for devs far outstrips supply. As soon as that tops out, and companies want to discriminate between 'good' and 'bad' developers, I think we'll see professional bodies and regulation become more required and sought after. Basement hackers will go the way of unlicensed doctors and disbarred lawyers.

This will also be accelerated as soon as we start killing people with badly written code, at which points governments will intervene and demand regulation of the industry. It's only a matter of time.

 

I agree that some professionals are already programming through Excel and Jupyter-like notebooks.

But, apart from seeing people use better tools in a more sophisticated way, I believe basic theory, formal syntax and algorithmic thinking will be a part of the skillset of all future professionals (like formal writing skills or math concepts are now).


I think you're placing the cultural cart before the economic horse here. The reason we haven't professionalized is because there's been no need to - demand for devs far outstrips supply.

That's a good point. Supply-demand is probably a better explanation for the lack of regulation.

This will also be accelerated as soon as we start killing people with badly written code

I wonder if we're running late already. A few political conflicts have already been linked to poorly regulated and thought-out technology.

Look at nytimes.com/2018/10/15/technology/...

Or the multiple data leaks as of late (and the consequences they might have).

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