CS Folks Think It’s Easy

When my wife and I first met, she asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I was a software engineer. She was impressed, and assumed that it was a very difficult job, requiring exceptional skill. I told her that I thought you could almost teach chimpanzees to do it. I was exaggerating for dramatic effect, but my perception was that the skills that I had were really very widespread.

I’ve since found out that not ony can’t you teach chimps to do this, you can’t even teach a lot of very smart people to do this. My wife is a very bright, very thoughtful, very logical person. With my encouragement, she took a programming class when she was attending Santa Rosa Junior College. For reasons that I could not understand, this very smart woman that I am married to just didn’t get it–and I’ve discovered that she is not alone in this respect. It is apparently somewhat harder to learn how to program, at even a very simple level, than I realized.

This quote is from the August 18th post called “Economic Ignorance” on Clayton Cramer’s blog.

The reason why it is quoted here on my blog is that this is the same attitude that my beloved software engineer husband has. He assumes that if he can do it, anyone can do it, without really realizing the myriad specialized skills he has learned since he started programming an Apple IIe millenium (okay, decades) ago. But he ought to know better. Just because he’s brilliant doesn’t mean we all are. I mean, I have “Jurassic Park disease.”*

*JPd is the ability to make unreplicatable bugs over and over, the ability to crash computers while simply opening applications, and the ability to not have a clue what a person is talking about when they are explaining “the basics.”