Dedd Pixel

Labour of Love

by on May.02, 2014, under Tech

Programming sucks, it’s true.  But it sucks in a way that all worthwhile things in life suck.  As humans, we are constantly engaging in endeavors that drive us mad but are insanely compelling to us nonetheless.  Whether it’s programming the impossible, or running a business, or parenting – there is something about these activities that we as a species are drawn to despite the plethora of obvious hardships and less-than-ideal moments that are inherent within.  Despite what we tell ourselves, almost any effort at crafting the perfect, standards-compliant, future-proof Madonna of {} will inevitably be soiled by a plague of impossible deadlines and slimmed-down budgets.  More often than not, we plan for the perfect project but nothing is perfect, so we end up with hacked together snippets littered with /* TODO: Fucking code, how do they work? */ that we pray is never witnessed by another programmer.

We start our careers with the brightest of hopes, intent on mastering every technology that rolls down the hill and keeping our code as beautiful as our idealist outlook on everything in life.  However, life usually gets in the way, and mastering everything is a goal destined to fail.  We inevitably start using code libraries without a clue of how they work because of the promise that it will shave off some development time and help us meet the deadline that the the project manager (who is not a programmer) scheduled.  The two greatest fears for a programmer is a manager that doesn’t code and manager who hasn’t written code in years.  The landscape is ever-changing, and that which sort of worked years ago is no longer valid.  This is the way it has always been and they way it will always be.  The cutting-edge tech we use today will be laughably lacking in the future but we use them regardless.  We are in a career of planned obsolescence.  Anything we are doing now will be lagging-edge in the future, and unless we are fully committed to shunning everything else that is worthwhile in life we cannot honestly hope to stay on top.

We choose this profession despite the inevitable.  Why?  We choose it because of the moments of triumph.  Despite how cludgy a snippet of code is, it is joyous when we actually get something impossibly difficult to actually WORK.  Despite the insane damn people we have to deal with on a daily basis, it feels glorious to get a project done and out the door.  This is not any different than any other pathway people choose in life.  If it was easy and clearcut and if there was always a right answer that you can check against the answer key, it wouldn’t be worth the effort.  There would be no joy, no mystery, no reason to bother.  We thrive on the opportunity to try out something new, even if there is truly no hope in mastering it and even if we are drowning in a sea of unreasonable expectations where we can only hope to stay afloat.  This is a field that is constantly changing and it is that wild abandon that entices us to this land of chaos.

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