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Re: PG: Hackers and Painters

> Date: Mon, 19 May 2003 15:54:05 -0400
> From: Scott McKay <swm@itasoftware.com>
> The system of apprentice-journeyman-master craftsman is
> well understood and books galore have been written on it.
> In my opinion, one of the great failures of the current
> practice of software is its failure to retain this model.
> The notion that some random person, no matter how talented
> or intelligent, can just start out writing software with
> no guidance from "master craftsmen" is not only arrogant,
> it practically verges on insanity.
> There are few complex fields that behave as badly as we do.
> Here are some of the fields I know of that use this old
> system of guilds: plumbers, electricians, carpenters,
> print-makers, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, cooks,
> architects, any field of science which involves getting
> a PhD and then doing post-grad work, etc, etc.

I agree 100%.  I get annoyed when I read about supposedly self-taught
hackers who are so ineffably brilliant that they never need to go to
college, never need to read books on algorithms and data structures, never
need to get any formal training whatsoever, etc. etc.  I never know if
these stories are true; I suspect they're true but within a limited domain.
As a mostly self-taught person myself wrt programming and CS, I am acutely
aware of how limiting my background is and I'm actively working to fix it,
which means reading books on algorithms, data structures and theory,
auditing classes, etc. etc.  I also teach a lot of these self-taught whiz
kids (many of whom are extremely bright) and usually find that their
knowledge drops to zero once you get past the nuts-and-bolts stage.
Fortunately, they're usually willing to learn and don't have an attitude.