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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software 608

theodp (442580) writes Over at Alarming Development, Jonathan Edwards has an interesting rant entitled Developer Inequality and the Technical Debt Crisis. The heated complaints that the culture of programming unfairly excludes some groups, Edwards feels, is a distraction from a bigger issue with far greater importance to society.

"The bigger injustice," Edwards writes, "is that programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a programmer you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from developing software. The real injustice of developer inequality is that it doesn't have to be this way." Edwards concludes with a call to action, "The web triumphalists love to talk about changing the world. Well if you really want to change the world, empower regular people to build web apps. Disrupt web programming! Who's with me?" Ed Finkler, who worries about his own future as a developer in The Developer's Dystopian Future, seconds that emotion. "I think about how I used to fill my time with coding," Finkler writes. "So much coding. I was willing to dive so deep into a library or framework or technology to learn it. My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I'm less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity."
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

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  • Re:Cry Me A River (Score:5, Informative)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @09:44AM (#47414639) Homepage Journal

    No, it isn't.

    Tools are simpler and easier to use than ever, and this guy is mistaking nostalgia and innocence for actual difference.

  • Re:Cry Me A River (Score:5, Informative)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @10:08AM (#47414933)

    If you don't want to get left behind the fads, don't choose an area that's all about fads.

    Any kernel developer will currently be using basically the same toolset as they used in 1980.
    Any driver developer will currently be using basically the same toolset as they used in 1980.
    Any game developer will currently be using basically the same toolset as they used in 2000.

    Not everyone jumps on a new shiny framework every 2 years because they're struggling to overcome the limitations of a crappily designed language like javascript. If you don't want to jump from fad to fad... just don't be a web dev.

  • I say the professional athlete is luckier than you are. There are hundreds of thousands of kids every year working as hard as they can to become professional athletes, and that hard work combines with two big patches of luck - good genetics and the fortune to avoid a career-ending injury - to make success. The ones who get hurt can't do it, no amount of hard work offsets poor genetics, and the pool of available paid athlete positions is relatively small.

    In our field, average talent or at most slightly above average talent and a lot of hard work is all you need to succeed. You don't need to be born a genius, average intelligence and a willingness to learn is sufficient. And there are a huge pool of open positions plus the possibility of creating your own niche. The only thing "elite" about most of us is that we learned not to be lazy and in the modern world that appears to less common than it was a century earlier.
  • Re:Cry Me A River (Score:4, Informative)

    by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @10:48AM (#47415331)

    It IS accessible. Every copy of Windows since 2006 has included Powershell, which is one of the easiest to learn things you will ever come across, and it can handle 99% of the tasks your average non-programmer user will ever want to do, from simple GUI's with scripted events, to excel automation, to bulk administrative work. Theres even an IDE for it built right into windows.

    Im not an OSX guy but I understand things are pretty similar over there, with whatever OSX uses (Applescript?), and Im pretty sure most Linux distros come with Perl or Python (if not theyre a 1-liner away).

    If you're not finding those scripting languages accessible enough, you dont care enough about the project you want to do. Alternatively, maybe some people just dont naturally have a gift for the type of thought process required by programming-- and I dont think that needs to be a "problem".

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @10:52AM (#47415369)
    With an auto hammer [sears.com] of course.
  • Re:Cry Me A River (Score:5, Informative)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @11:32AM (#47415759)

    Bullshit. In 1960 you would be correct. In 1980 kernels were written in C, for new fangled micro computers.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @03:28PM (#47418171)

    The only reason you can't use Turbo Pascal to make web pages is the compiler was never updated for the functionality but it very well could have been.

    The web is not a runtime environment.

    But web servers are.

    The reason you can't use TurboPascal is because web pages run in the browser virtual machine,

    Web pages are served by a web server, and the OP is exactly correct: TP was not updated to function well in a web server environment, unlike things like Perl that have modules to deal with CGI.

    Of course TP doesn't execute on a browser like the javascript that is common, and web browsers will never see a pascalscript. but that wasn't the claim you responded to. "Make web pages" isn't just "run scripts on a browser".

    Web languages, n the other hand, are predominantly for programming code on a server to generate markup, which is then interpreted by the browser to render output,

    Right. And there is no reason that TP couldn't generate that output, except that it didn't get updated to to deal with CGI and you'd have to write your own library to do that. Or maybe someone has written one, I don't know. I don't care enough to look. I never programmed in it, I used TurboC.

    Basically, if you are thinking your browser is a "platform", or you are thinking "the web" is "a platform" in the traditional programming sense, as the OP obvious is, then you are an idiot.

    No, actually, he's quite right. It's a different method of programming, a different paradigm altogether. He didn't talk about programming the browser so that part of your statement is irrelevant, but as a design platform the web truly is different. At least before people tried to change a markup language into a full page layout and presentation language.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine