11 Dec 2010

Playing God

Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting. It can be a good job, but if you want to make about the same money and be happier you could actually just go run a fast food joint. You are much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.

People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect. People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines. – Zed Shaw

This quote got me thinking about how and why I ended up programming for a living. I immediately ruled out the very often heard “because I just happened to pick up computer science at college” answer. I remember my first exposure to programming. I think I was about 11. Computer Science Engineering was still pretty novel back then, and I joined this C programming course at a computer center near my house. I don’t think I derived much joy out of it. On hindsight, I think it was a very bad idea to join a course where almost all the other attendees were atleast a good five years older than me, but nevertheless, I was in no way inspired or influenced by that short exposure to programming.

A few months later (when I had forgotten most of the C I had learned), a friend of my father introduced me to Visual Basic. I developed an almost instant liking to it. I remember spending so many hours making many little applications using it. I distinctly remember making a calculator, Celsius to Fahrenheit converter, and a chatbot (inspired by Eliza).

I discovered a joy in building those little screens that I could not find while attending the C classes. I now realise why. I love programming because I love playing God. I love bringing stuff to life out of nothing. The same could be said about designing. What you build using your brain when you code, you tend to build using your heart when you design. I have come to realise that to build great products – you need a combination of both.

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