A black and white image of the author Kolja Dummann

Stop the glorification of coding, a rant.

Why do we still glorify programming like it’s an field of work that’s more like art than work? With superstars and ninjas. Yes there some people who have a lot of freedom at their companies and who have a tremendous amount of fun at work. But let’s face it the majority of people don’t when they do coding. For them it’s job not a passion and there is nothing wrong with that.

So what got me started with this topic? Scrolling through my twitter timeline I came across this tweet:

While it talks about how to frame coding in a way that it’s not putting people off. It somehow implies that coding is something passionated. It’s fun. It’s a journey. It sounds cool, it sounds like it’s art or something where are super creative all day. But reality is different. Looking at the vast majority of programmers they are simply translating domain knowledge to something a very stupid robot understands. (I know it’s a quote but I couldn’t find the source anymore). It’s not like your are an artist that does super creative stuff all day. Your day to day tasked will be to transform specifications (Word documents, JIRA Tickets, UI mock ups, or even less formal things) into code, glueing this knowledge into a software architecture you might or might not be able to influence, depending on your environment.

There are certain jobs in programming that allow you to be creative, invent new things on regular bases and do cool research but theses jobs are rare. I’m very fortunate to work at such a place and even get paid by customers for it. There are others who do amazing things with code. Just look at Sam Aaron who is making music through code with Sonic Pi. Some people will use code to do creative things but that’s no different from other professions. Would you say lumberjacks have a job where you can express all your creativity because there some that cave art with a chainsaw? Most probably not.

Don’t get put off by all of the people praising coding as something you have be passionated about. It’s ok to see it as a job. You don’t need to spent every free minute coding, reading computer science papers, learn your tenth programming language or even invent your own. Just make it your job and do other things in your spare time. If you are passionated about it that might be a plus because you enjoy spending time with it, but it can also develop into a nightmare when you are not be able to live it up to the things you might want to do.

Will coding/programming be a profitable job in the future? I don’t know. There are some hints that it might not. In my day job I’m working on automating some of the things that a typical coder does, for various reasons but that’s another story.