Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

The Digital Path to Incompetence


Almost every single day, I ask myself this question: Why is there so much bad programming? In this blog, I’ve wondered if it was due to outsourcing to people who did not own a general purpose computer (desktop or laptop, not a tablet or phone).

If programmers don’t encounter the same frustrations and ineptitude as we do, how could they code for us? How could they know to avoid what annoys us, if it didn’t annoy them, too?

Now, I’m beginning to think there’s another, more likely, explanation. Everywhere you look, people (mostly younger) use digital devices in ways best described as addictive. They are the Digital Generation, the denizens of this brave new world.

What you don’t see is extended concentration or focusing on anything not giving digital feedback or gratification. They seem incapable of total immersion in any experience, be it books, movies, television, other people—or programming.

Only now do I realize the obvious. This behavior is antithetical to producing good programming. They can’t sit still long enough to develop a programmer’s main muscle, the butt muscle.

Programming is an intellectual wrestling match, a contest won through perseverance. Smart does not succeed without bulldog determination. Problem solutions elude anyone easily distracted.

The proliferation of digital products has increased the demand for programmers. But if too many potential programmers lack the necessary skills (self-discipline, focus, concentration, determination, and patience), quality can only decrease.

I’ve known for many decades what skills were necessary. It just never occurred to me that people could be programmers without them. Yet, if that’s who’s available, that’s who gets hired.

In today’s world filled with freelance apps and web pages, I have to wonder how many programmers have managers who know what it takes for good programming? Not enough, I think.

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