Monday, June 15

Paul Ford's What is Code? article takes us through the events and dramas that unfolded in the last 50 years in technology, in an attempt to explain what exactly programmers spend their time doing these days. It explains the traditions, lore, and thought processes of certain groups of programmers in an entertaining, illuminating way. One accurate point the author makes throughout the article is that the software world is constantly changing in ways that are unique to this industry, with specific parts of it changing quicker than others.

I finished the article feeling empty and less curious about the practice of programming. Part of that feeling came from realizing, for the millionth time, that there is no "magic" going on inside a computer. Paul Ford's article had animated diagrams of NAND/XOR/etc. gates to solidify that point. I guess I already knew that, but for some reason it always bothers me. Another part of it came from Paul Ford making it obvious how big companies really do influence the path of technology. I find that part of technology a little boring, but also disheartening. I continue to wonder where the anti-corporate GNU project will go.

It's typical for someone who programs, or stitches together, complicated websites to have a personal website similar to this one, which doesn't even use a static site generator. Is this a backlash against all the unnecessary layers of abstracton in something like "a Yeoman generator for modular AngularJS apps with Gulp and optional Polymer support"? Paul Ford set up the project last fall.

A lot of web programming feels like organizing the appropriate packages in the right ways. So I agree with one of Paul Ford's points, that programmers tend to be angry people, and I wish that wasn't true.