Your comment reminded me that the reality of the programming world is that there are countless unsung amazing programmers who have stuck to the same platform for years, if not decades. They know their IDEs, libraries, and code bases inside and out. They get an assignment, go into crazy-productive genius-coder mode, and get a high quality product out the door. And then they go home and enjoy themselves, and none of us are the wiser. But we sure do appreciate the reliability of our cell phone networks, our vehicle computer systems, and countless other amazing pieces of software that we take for granted. Thanks for reminding us that you can be a great programmer without having a huge following, programming open source, or even working for a startup. Building something people want and getting things done are all that matters.
When a field matures, and it becomes harder to make true advances on one's own, we lose our ability to easily evaluate objective merit--so we replace objective merit cues with subjective status cues. The "alphas" of a mature field are the ones who signal more, showing that they can afford to waste effort on useless plumage (little-used FOSS project contributions.)
Of course, once we have adapted to existence in a mature field, we begin to recognize an overabundance of status cues as "trying too hard," and recognize that those who have true merit might not be bothering with status cues at all: thus is born countersignaling, of the kind these "unsung amazing pogrammers" perform.
Thing is I'm positive this has helped a lot of programmers become far more successful than they otherwise would have been.
Unfortunately this also increases the amount of noise in the industry and makes it really hard to find the get it done types. There also seems to be a lot more ego floating around, but my perception on this could just be a side effect of getting old and grumpy.
My uncle is in a firm of "gruff old" electricians; they have made their fortune going in towards the end of projects when they are running overdue and completing them in time (i.e. massive construction projects).
But then, conversely, I know some youngsters who do similar things in other industries. So I don't think age is even a factor, some people are just finishers.
Edit: I removed a rant that I had here which went too far off-topic.
It's like pizza when you're a kid. You could eat it every day for every meal. As an adult, you still like pizza, but even twice a week feels like too much.
And in most regards, I think its fine. I had my day of the 90 hour work week. I'll let the new guys take their turn.
- Take regular breaks
- Practice good ergonomics
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthily
- Avoid stress (meditate or find another way to relax)
It's good practice to maintain your code. Treat your body like source code that you have to maintain for your entire life.
Organ grinders .... the worst of the "thousand nuisances that made it impossible for the householder to enjoy any quiet" .... such "instruments of torture" had cost him a quarter of his working life. At one point he tallied 165 nuisances in 90 days.
his 1871 obituary in the London Times notes that he lived to be almost 80 "in spite of organ-grinding persecutions."
Because of his campaigns against street music, buskers deliberately turned up at his lodgings to annoy him, even following him down the street.
but seriously babbage should have stuck some beeswax in his ears
alternatively, he could live in a tower like a proper wizard
Just because some people do that doesn't mean we all do. I'm, ahem, 47 this year, and you probably wouldn't know it judging by my mental and physical vitality. I have not stopped being who I am. You don't have to, either.
I don't want to be that old guy who say that a youngster' subcultural identity doesn't exists based on my preconception or so I decided.
Overall I'd say its confirmation bias. Think about how many people we encounter every day that don't have a clue. That ratio doesn't change with age. Age just becomes a convienient scapegoat.
If we can cure the diseases of aging that affect our mental and physical performance, we'll hopefully get rid of this sad state of affairs.
It's such a waste that so many incredibly brilliant people are seeing their mental functions decline because of the accumulation of beta amyloids in their brains or whatever other problem that happens to be in evolution's blind spot (humans didn't use to live that old, and rarely reproduced at that age if they did). A huge waste for humanity.
Youth can be applied to do great things but it has its disadvantages.
Ageism becomes, unfairly, a proxy for determining something important: The creative humility of being able to embrace and extend new ideas.
The thing is: Someone in their 20's can just as easily become set in their ways as someone in their 40's or 60's. Becoming jaded and self-important is easy. Losing your curiosity is easy – boy, some people lose it by age 10. I can't stand people who decide they've learned everything there is to know about the world around them – whether they're 22 or 82.
Especially when selecting people to help you build something, buy into people with creative insight, curiosity, humility and passion. Those can be found at any age.
(Fun example: Watch a David Attenborough nature documentary from the BBC. One where he actually shows up on camera, in the middle of a remote habitat. Watch how delighted he is, even after decades of study and exposure to what he's talking about. He doesn't take anything for granted. He and his work are wonderful.)
I think he's developed a couple of websites for pay. I just remembered that he worked for a while at the McLuhan centre at University of Toronto.
Now he's mostly working on personal research projects for education.
It really is a good article and worth the read.
The author compares and contrasts the differences between early blossoming and late blossoming intellects. The science/math geniuses belong usually to the former and the artists to the latter. Perhaps, programming is more art than we have been led to believe.
I hear that a lot. I've worried about it since mid-eighties when my father sued US Government for age discrimination. But, I've not see it.
I'm almost 40, not old enough? Maybe I got another decade or two before the kids kick me off their lawns?
Maybe cult of youth exists more in "corporate"/"enterprise" world? Where naive, cheap, workaholics are greatly desired and always in supply?
Truth is, old dogs CAN learn new tricks. But it takes more energy than just repeating their old tricks.
A story or experience can have a "message" the same way it might have a "moral". In fact "moral" is often defined as: the message conveyed by a story.
"Example" would have been a poorer word in its place.
"Babbage's message" made the title shorter, but also misleading. A complete title of "Babbage's heart-warming" would have made it even shorter, but I hope you're not advocating in favor of that!
Jim did not write a letter. He was the "author" of the sentiment (according to the speaker) by the way he lived his life.
are not identical. The former is a personal article or note from Babbage.
I got down voted for exactly what zeteo said...
and "A message from Babbage's life for the middle-aged"
to me both titles sound elegant but the former is misleading and the latter is correct.
The title is not trading ambiguity, it is just misleading.
Programming isn't a science (it is barely an engineering) and thus comparison with Babbage just isn't valid.
The article is more like, "What the middle-aged can learn from Babbage's life".
I give credits for the authors perspective, though.
I am calling this out because I was expecting a reference to an original article written by Charles Babbage and did not see one.
Imagine if someone wrote an article titled "Einstein's final message to the world" and you only see a list of life achievements of Albert Einstein from the authors perspective.
My mentor was 20 years my senior. His ability to read into other people's code, see potential problems, bottlenecks, and keep our code optimized has been invaluable.
His wife, Georgiana died age 31, Ada Lovelace died aged 36 and Countess Teleki died a year before Babbage aged 34.
Only three of his 8 children survived into adulthood.
As a programmer, I try to automate everything; but it can be healthier to do (physical) tasks the long way.
It makes me confused when a old person simple doesn't learn anything new that could possible help with their life. Heck I've been trying to convince a family member with the iPad (possible the easiest "computer" to use).
If he'd started at 20, he would have finished it.
What we know today as computer is probably far from what he imagined.
In 1810 aged 19 he started University at Trinity, Cambridge.
In 1812 aged 22, disappointed with the level of mathematical tutorage formed the Analytical Society, translating Lacroix' works on differential and integral calculus into English. He transferred to Peterhouse and they gave him a degree without him even having to sit an exam.
He also got married during this time. 10 years later his wife and 5 of his 8 children were dead.
And he stood up again and invented a fucking programmable computer made out of wheels!!
I think I can cut him a bit of slack.