Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beautiful sentiments about programming

Wrapped up in grad school as I am, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture, and why I got involved in this career path in the first place.

For my classes in Software Engineering and Management, I have to read The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks. I know the book by reputation; as it was first published in the 70's, I presume that the material is very old news to many people who share my interest in programming. Even so, this is new to me, so I wanted to share a passage from the book that I personally found very inspiring.

"The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.

Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself. It prints results, draws pictures, produces sounds, moves arms. The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.

Programming then is fun because it gratifies creative longings built deep within us and delights sensibilities we have in common with all men."

Oh yeah.


  1. For whtever reason, this is making me smile, big time.

  2. This made me feel good about my choice of study/career, thank you.

  3. Yeah, that's one of my favorite passages from MMM. Really well put, and taps into the propensity for us programmers to think of ourselves as wizards. :)