You Either Think Graphically or You Don't

Dan Shafer revdan at
Mon Nov 21 14:24:45 EST 2005

For me, primarily a writer who sees programming as an alternate form  
of communication, the answer to the question "why program?" is the  
same as the answer to the question "why write?" or "why paint?" It is  
in the nature of human beings to create. Each of us has different  
talents and interests and skills and capabilities and curiosities.  
Each of us has different perceived needs in the realm of software to  
deal with our day-to-day tasks.

Many of the Revolution apps I've built for myself and others could  
have been done some other way. Perhaps a set of complex Excel macros  
could have done the job. Or an off-the-shelf piece of software could  
come close. But to get that perfect fit between a perceived need and  
a solution requires a form of artistry that expresses itself in code  
and UI design in much the same way a custom drawing depicts "just so"  
a scene or person that could have been captured roughly  by some less  
artistic and precise method.

WHy code? Coding is not for everyone. In fact, everyone I know who  
codes would say there are many days when coding isn't enjoyable or at  
least isn't their preferred activity. Just as many artist friends  
will tell me that there are many days they'd rather e sailing or  
walking the dog than painting or sculpting. But like art, software  
design and development -- including the grunt work of coding -- gets  
into your blood. It becomes part of who you see yourself as being.  
You could no more quit coding than you could quit thinking because  
very often you think in code. I look at any problem/opportunity in  
the real world and my first instinct is, "How can I explain this  
better?" (that's the writer in me) and my second instinct is, "What  
kind of software could make that problem more tractable?" (that's the  
coder in me).

Every year I receive hundreds of emails and correspondence from  
people who seek advice about starting or continuing their writing  
careers. I tell them all the same thing. "Don't write unless you  
cannot not write." I'd say the same goes for coding. Many people who  
say they love writing actually love having written; they like the  
result, but not the process. Same is true for coding. Same, I  
suspect, is true of artists.

My 2 Euros.

Dan Shafer, Information Product Consultant and Author
Get my book, "Revolution: Software at the Speed of Thought"

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