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re: Does programming require empathy? VIEW POST


This looks to be the original tweet by Kent Beck ( ):

the *craft* of programming begins with empathy, not formatting or languages or tools or algorithms or data structures

Judging by another comment he makes further down in the discussion,

who do you think is reading those programs? a robot?

I get the impression that he is at least in part referring to the importance, when writing code, of thinking proactively of the people who will be reading that code in the future (which could be the original author of course).

Making the intent and workings of the code as clear as possible does seem valuable to me, given that modern code is being updated all the time. Personally, empathy seems to me like one of many qualities that are valuable though. Here Kent Beck seems to elevate it to a special status above other important qualities, like motivation, dedication, problem solving, etc. I'm not sure I go along with that.

I do think it's usually worthwhile for us to consider how people who have to work with our code later on will feel about it, and to try to make that experience as easy as possible. However, I think there are programmers out there who would work hard to make their code clean and readable, but they might not look at it from the point of view of empathy. They might see it as just taking pride in their craftsmanship. The result would still be the same though.


The comment sounds like it might be somewhat reactionary. If you're working in an environment where people repeatedly make similar mistakes, and continually work for themself, you'll start prizing the attribute you think everybody is missing.

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