Why I Still Find Programming Inspiring, 8 Years Later

I’ve been programming for 8 years now. While there have been ups and downs, I’ve recently had a chance to reflect on my dual choice in career and hobby. It still means a lot to me.

As an act of creative expression, it is truly unique. Programming is the act of creating moving poetry. Programs are not merely words at rest, they define and prescribe actions that will take place and interact with each other. As a form of writing it is also much more dynamic; as code is more likely to be updated than articles, books or blogs.

It also includes a foil to the creativity. There is a requirement for the application of the muse to be logically consistency. Code isn’t just free-for-all modern art. You have real rules to play within; providing a grounded world to inhabit. This ‘grounding’ provides objectivity to the sport and allows comparison and competition between pieces.

Also, programming is hilariously useful. It enables our modern world to run. To re-quote for the millionth time: Software is eating the world. And it is not for nothing: automation frees humanity of mundane, repeat tasks while unlocking a new form of leverage. Write once; run infinity times. This is especially mind-boggling when realizing the reduced capital requirements in the face of traditional industries.

It can be easy to become jaded towards one career and one’s craft. The fun, art, hacking is often overshadowed by business requirements and politics. I get that. But, when you pause and think, it is truly magical we get to make money with intellectual self-reflection.

I realized that this is precisely the dark side of it all; the self is a little too involved in the job. It touches the ego, the intellect and the creative identity. For such a well-compensated and flexible job, the number of depressed and burnt-out developers is quite high.

It has been prognosticated many times that the end of programming is nigh; thanks to the development of new no-code tools. And maybe this time, with AI and large language models, that will be true. But that doesn’t change that for a brief moment in history, humans could talk to machines using their native language. And that’s more than kinda neat.

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