Wednesday, December 11, 2002
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Are Programmers Special?

markpasc responds to my claim that users are not Muggles, arguing that many people seem incapable of learning to program. His professor told him that "software engineers are lucky, special, etc because it takes a certain mindset to design and write software."

Some people don't read very well, but we expect just about everyone to learn to read. Some people can't write fine prose, but we expect that just about everyone will learn to write. Programming is just like reading and writing. It's not a rare gift, like being able to hit a fastball. It's a simple skill, like driving a car.

(There are some people who can't read or write or drive cars, but that's unusual and not what we're talking about. There are some people who program exceptionally well, just as there are people who write effortlessly and read with incredible speed; that's not what we're talking about here. If you can hack college, you can learn to hack. But if you're a muggle, you simply are not going to Hogwarts, period)