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Yeah the claim that it is "the most complex task a human can undertake" is a little.... iffy. I mean, most of the times its really not. Most of programming is exactly as complex as most of civil engineering or most of plumbing. Most of a sufficiently mature field is usually not that complex at all because the most complex stuff is abstracted out. My civil engineering friends don't design bridges from scratch and my plumber doesn't threads the pipes themselves. They rely on industry standards which give them enough abstraction to be productive.

Now this is not to say on the frontiers of it its not very complicated. But so is every other field. Ever thought about plumbing a space station? Or designing a rapid deploy bridge? You can't compare frontiers of one field with the middle of the other.






> most of civil engineering or most of plumbing

both fields that have strict educational and credential requirements to practice professionally. Both strictly - dare I say it - gate-kept.


Informatics as well, Informatics Engineering is a protected title in many countries.

While the exam can be avoided if one isn't into signing contracts and taking legal responsibility in project execution, the order still has a last word to say regarding which universities are allowed to actually claim that they give engineering titles in Informatics.


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Well, I don't know how close I am to getting yelled at for feeding a flame war here, but...

You described yourself as "a guy who taught himself programming starting with calculators in middle school by the way (TI-Basic => C via SDCC => Assembler on calculators and MCUs". So you've had, I'm guessing, a few decades to learn and absorb all this stuff, and you started from the bottom/most concrete layer of abstraction and worked your way up - just as GP is suggesting everybody ought to do (and which I'm agreeing with). By mastering each layer before popping up to the next, each one was simple and made intuitive sense, so it seemed easy the whole time.

Now compare your experience to that of the hypothetical stockbroker who's diving into React native app programming without even really understanding what a loop is. He has decades to go before he understands what he's doing! What's NPM? What's a text editor? Is that different than a word processor? I screwed up my initial install... how can I start over? Insisting that programming is really easy and it's gatekeepers adding requirements that make it hard isn't doing him any favors; he's going to feel like a complete failure.

Rather, being honest with him and telling him that software abstraction is layered, and each layer depends on the ones below it, and while most people work at the top layer, each layer has idiosyncrasies that impact the layers above it that you need to understand when something goes wrong so you can easily troubleshoot problems, will probably ease his anxiety about diving into this (yes, very complicated) field.

And for the record, yes, I absolutely believe that programming as a profession would benefit from professional licensing like medicine, law and accounting do.


> each layer has idiosyncrasies

You don't need to understand those. The practical side is this: You can ask someone who does understand. The less practical reality is that the people who created the layer didn't have what it takes. (skill, time and/or money)

> programming as a profession would benefit from professional licensing

The existing solution is really quite simple. You have every layer up to the wall socket done by licensed professionals. Then you let those without formal certification go wild plugging things in, wiring extension cords, lamps etc. When comfortable with that they can even lay some pipe, pull some wires in it, add switches and wall sockets (As long as the components are certified!) All the way up to the fuse box (and no further!) They can even wire their whole house provided someone with certification signs off on it.


Same reply now that I'm not rate limited...

> Now compare your experience to that of the hypothetical stockbroker who's diving into React native app programming without even really understanding what a loop is. He has decades to go before he understands what he's doing! What's NPM? What's a text editor? Is that different than a word processor? I screwed up my initial install... how can I start over? Insisting that programming is really easy and it's gatekeepers adding requirements that make it hard isn't doing him any favors; he's going to feel like a complete failure.

> he's going to feel like a complete failure.

Why? You're casting this accusation on this hypothetical stock broker. Why are they going to feel like a complete failure? How is this hypothetical stock broker any different than I was literally hitting random buttons in the programming menu of his father's calculator until he made some text appear? > you started from the bottom/most concrete layer of abstraction

No, I didn't. I started from BASIC, I only learned C because assembler looked like greek and I heard you needed assembler if you wanted those fancy graphics all the best calculator games had and I learned that C let you write assembler somehow without writing assembler.

If I had quit because I didn't understand half of what I was doing (I didn't) I wouldn't be a programmer today. I didn't feel like shit, I felt like a kid who had just found a candy shop, what great things were there for me to learn next? Sure I had doubts, but they were easily drowned out by any modicum of progress I made, and soon enough I learned that it's ok because _no one_ knows all the fundamentals.

Out there there's someone who's scoffing at this talk of "knowing assembler lets you know how computers work", they're ready to bust out explanations of instruction pipelining, speculative execution (for now), how memory controllers work, what the micro controller in your HDD and SDD is doing to let your assembler do any kind of useful IO without understanding how underlying media works.

-

And also, if the stock broker quits because they don't understand what they're doing, in what universe is telling them:

"Actually go and learn this other stuff, that's the fundamentals. Just realize has a much much MUCH longer feedback loop, there's orders of magnitude more surface area before you get back to the level you were working on and can produce something that you recognize as being on the path of making the app you wanted"

Going to get them to _not quit even faster_.

In my experience the best way to get people feeling empowered is to let them make something that they can envision being on the path to what they want to make.

Writing a hello world in assembler and having it show up in a command prompt is not going to get my stockbroker friend nearly as happy as writing a hello world in React and running it on his phone, because he sees a glimmer of how the latter gets him to his goal of an app.

You're ascribing individual behavior to a broad set of people because they don't agree with your approach to learning being in their best interests. That's what I have such a problem with.

Who cares if they don't know what NPM is, who cares if every time he screws up he opens App Copy (23) and deletes the current one.

If they're going to quit because they don't know what NPM is or what a text editor vs word processor, how is sitting them down and trying to get them to understand assembler going to ease their anxiety?

And if you feel that's hyperbole, even getting them to understand NPM past copy and pasting commands. You'd be amazed at the things people have built that help real human beings do useful things every day while never truly understanding how NPM works.

There's nothing wrong with embracing people having no idea what they're doing just running at the wall until it starts to stick. It's what I did, and I couldn't have done it any other way.




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