Platform agnostic (the cathedral)

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a traveler came to Baltimore to visit the Digital Harbor.  There, in the renovated sweatshops and warehouses along the water, he observed hundreds of software engineers hunched over their keyboards, pecking away incessantly.  To him it looked like soulless work.  He pitied them.

Interrupting one worker, he said, “Isn’t it boring, writing lines of programming code all day?”

The programmer looked up and said, “Writing code?  I’m not writing code.  I’m building a cathedral.”

cathedral in milan

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2 Responses to “Platform agnostic (the cathedral)”

  1. Hillel Says:

    If only more software people actually thought that way, Rob. If they did, they’d appreciate the planning, engineering and technical mastery it takes to actually build a cathedral. (Though, some say many cathedrals (and other medieval structures) look the way they do due to lack of planning, etc.,.)

    Too many people in software know little or nothing of planning and engineering and their mastery is of very narrow and limited experience.

    Having just last night sat with a handful of actual software masters, there is a stark difference between them and many of today’s members of the software world: these guys (they happened to all be men) know what’s going on with the code Once it hits the metal, they might be stumped by all the electronic and electrical circuitry. In contrast, most of today’s software people are stumped as soon as they leave the language they’re using.

    Seeing the big picture and the outcome are very important, and today’s software people often do that just as well as those who go into the field 20 years ago. But if they really saw their work as building a cathedral, they’d be that much better at it.

  2. Michael Gray Says:

    There’s a beautiful line — I think I saw it from David Shea.

    “Code is poetry.”

    Ain’t it all?

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