OT: Programming as a profession-the "practice" model

Marian Petrides, M.D. mpetrides at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 16 14:56:39 EDT 2008

Oops. Sorry, Joe. That was not supposed to be an all-inclusive list  
(it didn't include, for example, my sister's profession either-- 
educator). And there are many others, too.

No offense was intended--I hope none was taken.

I entirely agree that the lessons learned from programming have made  
me a better physician and vice versa.  In fact, what I like best about  
programming is the application of the scientific method in a context  
that SHOULD be internally consistent. That is to say, if I do the same  
thing twice it should yield the same result.  (Try that with human  
patients if you want an exercise in frustration.) Then again, I'm one  
of those weird people who actually enjoys beta testing.  Hmm...  
diagnostic medicine as beta testing... works for me. ;-)

 >>>I only wish Architects had a similar resource, but I'm afraid  
we're too egotistical to admit that we don't have all the answers  
ourselves. You never hear an Architect self-label themselves as  
"newbies".  (enormous smile!)

Oh, yeah.  And I hear my residents calling themselves "newbies" every  
day.  (NOT!) :-)


On Mar 16, 2008, at 1:37 PM, Joe Lewis Wilkins wrote:

> Some excellent points, Marian.
> I'm a little disappointed that you didn't include Architecture in  
> your listing of "practices"; even more so by computer science's use  
> of the term architect in various aspects of the work to be done.  
> Actually, following my involvement with computers, I became a much  
> better Architect due to several realizations. I've mentioned this  
> before, elsewhere; but I believe it is worth mentioning again. In my  
> earlier days as an Architect, I found myself procrastinating, being  
> unwilling to actually start work on a project; mostly by being  
> overwhelmed with the magnitude of what needed to be done.
> Once I started breaking things down, solving "little" bits and  
> pieces, the project started to be less imposing. Then it even  
> started to be fun. But I always felt guilty about the earlier  
> procrastination. After spending some time trying to program Macs,  
> reading a lot of books on many programming languages, making a whole  
> bunch of false starts, I came upon the concept of breaking the  
> problem down into small, resolvable pieces; solving what I knew how  
> to solve; and researching how to do the things that I didn't already  
> know how to resolve.
> Unfortunately, this was never taught "specifically" at U.C. Berkeley  
> where I got my architectural degree. Maybe it was implied, since we  
> did spend an enormous amount of time with preliminary designs and  
> working with "programs" for projects; however, the programs for the  
> projects were always handed to us as a part of our assignments, with  
> no realization of the process. Had I been studying Computer Science,  
> that would have been one of the first things I would have be taught.  
> (I think!) I learned this very quickly when I started writing  
> Handlers and Functions for my computer programs.
> I now apply this mentality to Architecture, and have come to realize  
> that "procrastination" (but by a different name) is part of all  
> problem solving. It is during this "procrastination" process that we  
> digest the requirements of a project, and start breaking it down  
> into "aha! I can solve that" bits and pieces. The time is not  
> wasted. Sometimes it even saves time by coming up with a better  
> approach than might have been taken had we plunged right into "doing  
> it". Incidentally, this list is a great resource for that  
> "procrastination process", and then for the subsequent "researching"  
> process. I only wish Architects had a similar resource, but I'm  
> afraid we're too egotistical to admit that we don't have all the  
> answers ourselves. You never hear an Architect self-label themselves  
> as "newbies".  (enormous smile!)
> Joe Wilkins
> On Mar 16, 2008, at 10:57 AM, Petrides, M.D. Marian wrote:
>> At the risk of opening a can of worms, I offer the following as a  
>> synopsis of the  sentiments underlying the posts about the "Learn  
>> Programming in One Day" ad. The common thread seems to me to be  
>> that programming, like any other profession, is not so much taught  
>> as practiced.  Just as medical or law schools teach the rudiments  
>> of the profession, the real learning takes place in the day-to-day  
>> practice.  Without lifelong learning, no lawyer, doctor, or  
>> programmer will come close to achieving his/her full potential.
>> Someone once told me in my first year of medical school that  
>> "medicine is a personal philosophy, tempered by science and  
>> experience, and put into practice."  It seems to me that the  
>> statement applies equally to programming.  My 2 cents.
>> M
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