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I totally appreciate this attitude. One of the most important qualities of software development is to solve the customer's problem with as little code as possible. "I am coder and therefore the more code I write, the more productive and valuable I am" is a blinkered mindset.

At the same time, you have to actually describe your profession somehow. Everyone solves problems. Solving problems is definition of productive work. A carpenter solves problems by cutting pieces of wood apart and attaching them together. A bricklayer solves problems by stacking bricks on top of each other, with a bit of mortar in between to smooth them out. A car mechanic solves problems by fixing cars. A surgeon solves problems by cutting people open and fixing their insides. Eventually it turns into a bunch of meaningless MBA platitudes. "We don't 'build houses', we 'deliver solutions' to people's shelter-related problems."

If you go to a good surgeon with a problem that isn't going to be fixed with surgery, the surgeon is going to recommend a different solution and possibly even refer you to a different kind of professional. "Hey, you just need to rest that knee and maybe get some physical therapy. Here's a physical therapist I recommend." People understand that surgeons are smart and will occasionally listen to them, so surgeons can get away with this. More importantly, surgeons understand this. Surgeons don't go around thinking, "man, I need to perform even more surgeries because I'm a surgeon and that's what surgeons do" (or, at least, they shouldn't)--they have a deep appreciation of what surgery is and when it is or is not appropriate.

So I don't mind thinking of myself as a programmer, because I'm a programmer the same way a surgeon is a surgeon. If you come to me with a problem that cannot be solved by programming, I will tell you that, because to do otherwise would be a form of malpractice.




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