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The Psychology of Programming

Over the past week, I’ve listened to and read several articles that have started me thinking more about the Psychology of Programming.

Not that I haven’t been thinking about this for a while.  I’ve been quite intrigued by human behavior for a while now.  But more recently, there was this podcast over on dotNetRocks about “Punishment Driven Development”. And this comment:

The happiest people in my experience are those that have options. They have transferable skills, see their employment as a personal choice, have self confidence that they are providing value to the company and are in a position professionally and personally where they could change job if they needed. The feeling of being trapped in a position from which you can’t escape (either a dissatisfying job, bad manager or whatever) will lead to negativity.

Which I almost agree with, except I think it is the negativity that leads to feeling trapped.

And then there is the book I am reading, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which goes into detail on why we make decisions that seem to go against our better judgment.

Then there is another podcast that discusses the decisions we make as we start a new JavaScript project.

And all of this culminates into the following thoughts:

The Psychology of Programming
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How to be a Lucky Programmer

I’ve been studying topics related to social science recently and one item that keeps popping up in various places is the idea of luck.  It turns out that lucky people aren’t really all that lucky.  There life has been arranged either by them directly or indirectly by their environment so they end up having more chances of good things happening to them.

So, how can we apply this to programming?  How can you be a lucky programmer?

How to be a Lucky Programmer
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Are You Average or Awesome? 9 Ways to Improve.

The story goes that there were two men, Joe and Frank, who were camping out in the woods when a bear showed up in the camp.  Terrified, they decided the best they could do would be to stay perfectly still until the bear left.  Hopefully, the bear wouldn’t notice them.  As the bear was poking around, Joe says to Frank, “What are we going to do if this doesn’t work?”  Frank says, “Run!”  Joe says, “You really think we can out run a bear?”  Frank says, “I don’t need to out run the bear.  I only need to out run you.”

9 Ways to Improve
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Do Programmers even NEED a degree?

Well, a post that is no longer available really got  things going in blog-o-sphere.  Shoot!  Even Joel Spolsky got involved.  I saw another post, but I’m sorry to say, I can’t find it right now.

The original article put forth the idea that we are teaching the right stuff in our undergraduate Computer science degree programs.

Joel’s article suggested that what we really need is a bachelor of fine arts program for programmers.  That programming, and computer science are really two entirely different disciplines.

I think Joel’s onto something and his solution is probably the closest to what our current educational system can handle.  But, I have another solution to the problem that goes further. Continue reading “Do Programmers even NEED a degree?”