Re: Why I should give up programming

Hi Eric,

As a software developer and teacher, a blog post with the word "programming" in the title naturally catches my attention. When that same title mentions "giving up," I'm even more intrigued. Because, for the love of God, why would someone give up on programming?

I get your situation. You say that programming will probably not be your main source of income in the future, and maybe not even your main hobby. That's fine. Even if you're deciding not to develop software, the knowledge of what programming is and just a little understanding of how computers and software work puts you way ahead of most other people, who are just users of that software. That's something to be proud of, and I want to congratulate you on that achievement!

There are two more passages from your post that I would like to address.

"I feel like I've scraped the surface of a lot of languages and have become familiar with syntax in general."

Yes, I feel this one. I have a master's degree in Computer Science and have worked as a developer for over 10 years now. Does that mean I know everything about programming languages?

Oh no. Absolutely not.

The famous paradox of knowledge ("the more you know, the more you realize you don't know") applies to programming as well. For me, it doesn't really matter. I know the basics of programming and can think about problems like a computer would. Then the programming language just becomes a tool to fix those problems.

"[...] about 10 000 hours are a good approximation of how much time you need to spend to become really good at something."

This claim has had some criticism in the past, but let's assume it's true. Then the question is: how good do you want to become in a certain programming language? Do you aim to be that C++/Java/Python expert that everybody looks up to? That can answer any question about a language and for whom no secret is hidden? That's not me. As I said, I don't really care about being an expert in the language. I'm more concerned with choosing the right tool for the job. I know how to program and that makes me confident enough that I will be able to pick up a new programming language relatively fast.

Programming is not about becoming a language expert. It's about solving problems that matter. If we lose sight of that, we're just becoming high school maths students that excel at solving theoretical and abstract problems, without knowing how to translate this knowledge to practical situations. We'd become experts who can show off great algorithm skills that nobody benefits from.


DALLΒ·E 2024-07-05 17

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