Why Are Coders Angry?

This is an excerpt from a much longer article, by writer and programmer Paul Ford, called What is Code. This part caught my attention.

It sometimes appears that everyone in coding has a beef. You can feel it coming off the Web pages. There are a lot of defensive postscripts added in response to outrage. “People have reacted strongly to this post,” they’ll read. “I did not mean to imply that Java sucks.”

Languages have agendas. People glom onto them. Blunt talk is seen as a good quality in a developer, a sign of an “engineering mindset”—spit out every opinion as quickly as possible, the sooner to reach a technical consensus. Expect to be told you’re wrong; expect to tell other people they’re wrong. (Masculine anger, bluntly expressed, is part of the industry.)

Coding is a culture of blurters. This can yield fast decisions, but it penalizes people who need to quietly compose their thoughts, rewarding fast-twitch thinkers who harrumph efficiently. Programmer job interviews, which often include abstract and meaningless questions that must be answered immediately on a whiteboard, typify this culture. Regular meetings can become sniping matches about things that don’t matter. The shorthand term for that is “bikeshedding.” (Who cares what color the bike shed is painted? Well?…)

Code culture is very, very broad, but the geographic and cultural core is the Silicon Valley engine of progress. The Valley mythologizes young geniuses with vast sums. To its credit, this culture works; to its shame, it doesn’t work for everyone.

At any moment some new thing could catch fire and disrupt the tribal ebb and flow. Instagram was written in Python and sold for $700 million?, so Python had a moment of glory. The next mind-blowing app could show up, written in some new language—and start everyone taking that more seriously. Within 18 months your skills could be, if not quite valueless, suspect.Paul Ford