Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

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51 Replies - 5077 Views - Last Post: 08 October 2012 - 07:31 PM

#46 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 07 October 2012 - 03:19 PM

View PostAVReidy, on 07 October 2012 - 04:48 PM, said:

Dennis Ritchie also helped create Unix, and the Unix philosophy is to "write programs that do one thing and do it well," and to make software work together.

But I actually agree that programmers of the past were way more innovative. It's not because there were more great programmers coming up with unique ideas back then, it's just that back in the day you probably didn't have a computer unless you were really passionate about computing and you knew what you were doing. Also, the advances in hardware and software are hardly related; our brains aren't getting smarter as processors get smaller.


I disagree. The difference is that the men of the past have had plenty of time to be filtered out, refined, worked up, and researched. It's the same way with music, there were plenty of half baked idiots in Mozart's era, but they were lost in history through filtering. It's not fair to make that distinction.

We're plenty innovative, you're just too farsighted to see that.
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#47 midknight51  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 07 October 2012 - 07:32 PM

I don't even...
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#48 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 07 October 2012 - 07:57 PM

View PostLemur, on 07 October 2012 - 05:19 PM, said:

I disagree. The difference is that the men of the past have had plenty of time to be filtered out, refined, worked up, and researched. It's the same way with music, there were plenty of half baked idiots in Mozart's era, but they were lost in history through filtering. It's not fair to make that distinction.



Sadly, I have to agree with this. The mass of mankind has always been an inert lump, rightfully forgotten. Most of us will also be rightfully forgotten. There was never a golden age when creativity was the general rule, and the dullard a rare and pitiable beast.

Now that we've taken the elitist position, and confined ourselves to the innovative few, the "one percent" who do the interesting things (and ignored all of the implications of that decision, in order that we might get on with things) is the sort of innovation we see today of the same sort and the same caliber as the sort which we saw previously?

It is clearly not the same sort. Sciences mature, and if you're making the same discoveries over and over again you're not in a science (though you might be in a "social science"). So we're not seeing "today's Dennis Richie" or "today's Grace Hopper" because their work is done.

Is it of the same caliber? That's a harder question. I'm not sure what the basis of comparison would be, but it's striking to me that so much of the work in programming has been towards making it easier to program larger things - this is sort of the point of developing assembly languages and higher-level languages and compilers and a theory of algorithms and library code and so forth. So there are more people writing mediocre code than ever, which is a good thing (at least, it was always the goal!) and they're doing things that even a few years ago would have been considered impossible, which is even more remarkable. But what's being done that's really innovative? I don't know. It's certainly not the stuff that makes the big deals and the front page of the business section, that's for sure. A new way to share pictures? Sigh...

As Lemur says, the filtering is still being done. As always, any historical judgements made about a period by people living in it are useful only as data for future historians. As historical judgements, they're laughably premature.
Except for the one about Kissinger being a murdering suck-ass toady to all of the worst of the murdering thugs of his era, that one seems pretty sound.
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#49 gabehabe  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 08 October 2012 - 02:01 AM

RE: Y2K.

My boss still uses "millennium ready" as a sales term.

This post has been edited by gabehabe: 08 October 2012 - 02:02 AM

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#50 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 08 October 2012 - 06:00 AM

Your shop develops with Visual Fox Pro. I believe that term is actually relevant to that developing platform. However not to be confused that your developing platform is relevant to todays computing dynamics.
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#51 gabehabe  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:45 AM

Actually he still uses 2.6 for DOS, he can't understand Visual.

This is precisely the reason I no longer let him do projects. I just say "yeah, I'll do it", then disappear and do it in C#.

These days, I just get ridiculous deadlines. "Bespoke stock management system in a week? You got it!"

This post has been edited by gabehabe: 08 October 2012 - 07:46 AM

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#52 midknight51  Icon User is offline

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Re: Today's programmer is not such innovative as past's

Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:31 PM

View Postgabehabe, on 08 October 2012 - 09:45 AM, said:

Actually he still uses 2.6 for DOS, he can't understand Visual.

This is precisely the reason I no longer let him do projects. I just say "yeah, I'll do it", then disappear and do it in C#.

These days, I just get ridiculous deadlines. "Bespoke stock management system in a week? You got it!"


I always thought as a programmer that you would really get the say on how long something will take. I guess that is, if you actualy worked for the company and werent some 'freelancer' who simply accepted with a bid on how much you would do it for... How does this normally work in the field?

I know that in my field, cable maintenance, that if someone wants a building setup with comms, we'll tell em' three weeks and get it done in two. It's always nice to have that extra time.
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