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In programming, clever != smart.

10. November 2008 19:52 by Scott in   //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (37)

You ever have one of those days where you think you are the smartest man in the world and the best programmer at your place of work?  Then some clever kid comes along and does something that speeds up your code by a few seconds/minutes?  Ease your self.  Just because that person just solved your problem, doesn't mean they are smart.

"In programming, clever != smart." - anonymous


You work all day on a certain project, take a step back and look at it.  Its some of the beautiful code you just created, but you are hung up on this little issue.  Along comes some programmer and they solve it for you. When I was in high school or middle school and I was getting off the bus.  One day I heard one of my bus drivers say to a girl.

"You might be book smart, but your not street smart" - anonymous 

I tend to think that I am about in the middle of this quote.  I tend to think I am both book and street smart.  I imagine most people do.  Book smart programmers tend to be better at writing code then their street smart counter part.

The book smart programmer (smart):

  1. tended to focus more in school on classes including algorithms.
  2. tended to have less of a social life due to studying more or less depending on how fast they got solutions to projects.
  3. tended to be either inside playing video games or working on a cool project that could solve the way USB drives communicated to computers.
  4. tended to have soda cans and candy around while staying up late around his computer.
  5. tended to get better grades.


The street smart programmer (clever):

  1. tended to focus a bit more on going out and socializing.
  2. tended to focus a bit more on girls.
  3. tended to copy and paste code.
  4. tended to join a social organization.
  5. tended to have a bit more fun in the activities they thought up.
  6. tended to get a little lower grades.


This reminds me of the movie "Real Genius". Where Chris seems to have both of these types of people tackled.  He sees Mitch and he sees the old him.  The book smart programmer(laser tech).  Mitch is stuck with trying to do the best in college that he can. Then one day, Chris gives Mitch a little lesson. He lets Mitch know that college and life can't just be all books.  It has to be books and fun.  It has to be smart and clever. Sure clever != smart, but wouldn't it be good to be both? Wouldn't it be satisfying to be Chris and let Mitch slack off a bit.  They are both geniuses.

I went to college for four years, I did my fair share of partying and I didn't graduate with the best GPA.  For a Computer Engineer, it is a pretty shameful GPA.  Though I got a real job before even graduating.  I had done some work on the side while still in school.  I got an intern with my college Fraternity. This advanced my ability to show my future employer I can have a real job and keep it.  I am not saying stop all your studies now, but live life.

Programmers need to both be smart and clever. Not just smart and not just clever.  If you want to tackle the real issues, you can't keep writing code all day and every day.  You need to just step out and have some fun.

"Don't let Life pass you by..." - Scott

I am not trying to be a philosopher, but what I am saying is find your true happiness in life.  Be smart and clever.  Don't get stuck on always trying to be the best or smartest, but make sure you Get the Job Done at the same time.

P.S. I always tend to start on one subject and completely finish with another by the end of the post.  This one is no different. hah.

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