[plt-scheme] Re: Programming for non-programmers

From: Richard Cleis (rcleis at mac.com)
Date: Sat Oct 16 23:34:04 EDT 2004

On Oct 16, 2004, at 3:57 PM, Alex Peake wrote:

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Richard Cleis [mailto:rcleis at mac.com]
>> Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2004 10:36 AM
>> To: Alex Peake
>> Cc: plt-scheme at web-ext.cs.brown.edu
>> Subject: Re: [plt-scheme] Re: Programming for non-programmers
>> On Oct 16, 2004, at 9:33 AM, Alex Peake wrote:
>>>> Message: 2
>>>> Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 13:31:00 -0700
>>>> From: Richard Cleis <rcleis at mac.com>
>>>> To: "Neil W. Van Dyke" <neil at neilvandyke.org>
>>>> Subject: Re: [plt-scheme] Re: Programming for non-programmers
>>>> Cc: plt-scheme at list.cs.brown.edu
>>>> Is it the 'workers' that need educated or The Industry that needs
>>>> educated?  The laments in this thread include errors (made by 
>>>> 'workers', of course) involving memory allocation, among other
>>>> low-level issues.  In other words, after a four decade 
>>>> computerevolution where operating systems
>>>> have surpassed a gigabyte, these environments are still so
>>>> dumb that
>>>> it is possible for 'workers'
>>>> to make the same fundamental errors today as we did when I
>>>> was a kid.
>>>> I feel cheated; I was told that programs would be writing
>>>> themselves
>>>> by now! ;)
>>> It is WE the programmers ('workers') that need to write the
>>> programs
>>> that write programs, surely?
>> Indeed.  And bus drivers need to be trained to drive a
>> busses.  If busses have poorly designed brakes, the drivers
>> (no matter how well
>> trained) still crash more than necessary.  Does this mean
>> that we need to train them to upgrade brakes?
> This gets us into the "division of labor" discussion - probably not 
> here!
>>  From my perspective, CS education is often wasted because
>> graduates can't pursue better ideas when so much of their
>> time is wasted merely surviving.  This is part of what I
>> meant by 'The Industry Needing Training.'  I am applying self
>> criticism here, by the way; I am part of The Industry that
>> needs training.
> By "graduates" do you mean the working graduate, or the garduate 
> student? Let me assume the former.

Yes, the former.  More rudely stated as Products of Universities 
Delivered to Industry. :)
> There are great companies, average companies, poor companies (assume a 
> somewhat Normal
> distribution). That means there are very few "great". I also observe 
> that the "average" is pretty
> (absolute terms) low perfoming. It is tough to do well in low 
> perfoming companies. Just like
> companies, graduates follow a similar distribution (companies are just 
> aggregations of people).
> Again the "average" is pretty low performing (IMHO). Even then, held 
> back by low performing
> companies, the great can still shine bright and make big 
> contributions. (My mantra of career
> management, BTW, is "choose the right boss - all else follows".)
> So what would you like to achieve? Raise the level of a particular, 
> small subset that is important
> to you?

I am concerned with businesses in general.  If we *all* were more 
concerned with what is important to each of us personally, then so much 
the better (and so much more the demand for CS).

>  This is quite doable.

And a few of us in our organization are beginning to try.

> Raise the level of the global average? Exceedingly challenging, and
> certainly a very long term goal.

This makes me wonder.  Do members of other professions see shortcomings 
that are so challenging?  In other words, are the many low performing 
companies to which you refer a result of a computer revolution that is 
moving too fast?  Or is the computer profession no different than any 


> Alex
>> rac
>>> Alex

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