Is Programming the Next Blue Collar Job?

Imagine after a grueling day at the shop, sweating over your station on the assembly line, you punch out of your 9 to 5 and head down to the local watering hole with your crew to commiserate about your slave driver of a shift manager. And as you leave the factory behind, you sigh “How did I end up becoming just a lowly programmer?”

Insane to think about programming as a blue collar job, but that is exactly what an article in Wired suggested. Then the floodgates of Internet wrath opened up, but at least one post provided a more balanced analysis against the “Javascript Slingers” view of coding.

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When did we entertain the notion that coding is no different than assembling widgets on a conveyor belt? You can blame Frederick Winslow Taylor, the godfather of Scientific Management and architect of the corporate obsession with efficiency. The principles he laid down in the 1900’s industrial age led to many of the management practices common in companies across the world in our era. You can also blame him for the dreaded term “best practices”.

This drive for efficiency has even infiltrated the world of programming. There are plenty of ways that have been devised over the years to measure developer “productivity”, but they are often counterproductive and miss the point.

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In the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, it was not lines of code, number of commits, or bugs found that developers cared about. They view a job well done as making their end customers happy and getting things done on time. The path to “efficiency” then is not quantifying production like lines of code or number of commits per day, but in the creativity of solving hard problems.

Does grunt work coding happen? Of course, but programming has way more artistry, the type that defies metrics and befuddles the efficiency experts. The real secret productivity booster is in helping developers to solve problems faster through better communication and collaboration tools, more community based sharing and helping, and a culture that priorities learning and growth over cold, hard efficiency.

What do you think helps the most when it comes to developer productivity? Where are you seen that gets the developer experience right?

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How to check whether a checkbox is checked in jQuery?

Seems like it would have one answer, but nope, lots of ways to solve this…

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Thoughts on developers, digital transformation, enterprise agility, community building & software engineering culture. Author 👉 https://twitter.com/marksbirch

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