At its simplest, it comes down to getting a computer to do what you want it to do (or what your user wants it to do). As a programmer, you are part listener, part advisor, part interpreter, and part dictator. You try to capture elusive requirements and find a way of expressing them so that a mere machine can do them justice.You try to document your work so that others can understand it, and you try to engineer your work so that others can build on it. What’s more, you try to do this all against the relentless ticking of the project clock. You work small miracles every day.
It’s a difficult job.
One of my all time favourite authors is Terry Pratchett and I recently started re-reading his book The Wee Free Men, and I loved this piece of advice that one of the adult witches gives to a youngster starting out. In a conversation between Miss Perspicacia Tick and Tiffany Aching, Miss Tick reminds Tiffany of this truth:
If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.
Love and Pratchett,