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Aesthetics and the Human Factor in Programming (1972) (softpanorama.org)
32 points by mesofile on Aug 9, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

Funny - this rings as true today as when it was written:

> ...the present is a time of difficulty for programmers. The volume of work to be done is increasing; wages less so. The romantic aura surrounding this inscrutable occupation is, if it ever really existed, beginning to fade. Software houses are melting like snow in spring. Professionals accustomed to being strongly in demand now find themselves waiting on the books of the employment agencies. Even the claim of programmers to be a special breed of professional employee has come to be disputed. Still more significant, authority over the freewheeling brotherhood of programmers is slipping into the paws of administrators and managers -- who try to make the work of the programmers planned, measurable, uniform, and faceless.

There are historical resonances throughout, to an extent that shocks me, given that the author was coming from a milieu that on the face of it -- the industrial computing industry in early-'70s Soviet Union? -- is so alien to my own experience. He seems to have grasped some essential truths that continue to apply even as the world of programming and the world at large have changed in many profound ways.

"We, as innovators, must learn to keep a 50-year-old programmer as useful as a new recruit." speaks about the ageism in software industry before it was even conceived as a term!

Wages seem to be doing fine.

"Aesthetics and logic are both concerned with the enjoyment of a composition, as derived from the interconnections of its factors." -- Alfred North Whitehead, "Modes of Thought".

I wonder how this ties up with Naur's classical "Programming as Theory Building"? Also worth mentioning Gang of Four software patterns and their relation to the work and aesthetical thinking of Christopher Alexander (cf. "The Nature of Order").

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