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The Art of Programming

24. October 2008 13:00 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (80)

Do you think of programming as an art or as a necessity?  Do you think of programming as a passion or just something to make money off of?  Do you find that when you write a program you are brought to a place that can no longer be called a job, but a life changing experience?

"A man can be an artist... in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasey's art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece." - Man on Fire

I currently hold a 9-5 job as a software engineer.  I consider my self good at the job as does everyone else in my little cubicle.  I think the thing that separates the man from the boy or the woman from the girl is the passion one shows has.  Do they enjoy the work or do they just come to work for the money?  Have you found your dream programming job yet?  I personally have not found a job that currently excites me when I code in 1s and 0s.  My job has its perks like my ability to do a lot of research into new technologies, but at the end of the day I don't truly enjoy my job.  I do it for the money while at work. When I am at home, I do it for the passion.  For the fun of seeing things be created from nothing.

At home I spend my time with my family, but my spare time is devoted to hacking (coding).  The problem with this is that families and friends can't seem to figure it out.  They say "that you do it all day at work, can't you just put down the keyboard and spend some time with us?"  I tend to think that some times they might be jealous or ignorant of my computer, but that isn't the case. While I do sit at work all day in front of a computer working on problems, they are problems of need.  Hacking at work isn't particularly enjoyable nor does it spark the creative muscle. So, in my spare time I choose programming at home to open that creative muscle.  It needs to be freed and fed.

Too often programming is found as a boring task by many of the people I am around.  They don't understand its like building a bridge with your mind.  You build the bridge up piece by piece and when its finally done, you have a ribbon cutting ceremony and people start traveling on it.  They use it and stress test the beautiful code you just wrote.  You are completing a part of their lives with your creative imagination.  Not by the muscle on your back, but by the thoughts in your head.

This is what excites me about coding. I don't wear gloves that build a bridge, but I write beautiful code that gets used over and over again and solves a real problem in a person's life. It's like a piece of art in a national museum.  I don't look at it because its there.  I look at it because it is elegant and just plain imaginative.  When I code at work its out of necessity for the money. When I go home its to use my creative imagination. At work I am a boy, but at home I am a man.

I hope everyone is able to express their creative imagination sometime of each day even if its not at work.

Programming is an ART for me. I paint my masterpiece each day when I get home.

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Comments (80) -

Sebastien Arbogast
Sebastien Arbogast
10/24/2008 2:56:31 PM #

You are SOOOOO right! I mean, I often read articles about whether software IS or IS NOT art. The truth is anything is how you live it. There is a French artist called Cesar who compressed metal and lived it as art. My father does something similar in a car factory 8 hours a day, but it's not art at all for him. And with all the freedom that we have in hacking, no physical rules like gravity and stuff, no need to buy raw materials, etc. Software is certainly the creation technique that is the most likely to be lived as art. And yet, the most beautiful code is often one you don't even see, which is why people don't understand. This is really awesome!

Joe
Joe
10/25/2008 3:29:41 AM #

Great article but I would have to say that you sound like you are describing the art of development, as the art of programming is the style in which the code is used. This is really only something that other coders can see.

Riaan Minne
Riaan Minne
10/25/2008 12:10:54 PM #

Ditto!

Good to read articles about people to how take pride and enjoyment in what they do. I wish this principle will be taken more seriously when people consider their careers.

Frank
Frank
10/25/2008 1:31:03 PM #

I feel the same way, However I believe if we are only creating our "masterpieces" for our own personal pleasure, then we haven't yet graduated from boys to men.

Thomas Hansen
Thomas Hansen
10/26/2008 2:28:59 AM #

Great writeup, and a very good explanation of what makes us "tick"...

Tavee Khunbida
Tavee Khunbida
10/26/2008 7:46:22 AM #

Thanks a lot for your awesome article, and for the inspiration.

Chris Marisic
Chris Marisic
10/27/2008 8:47:57 AM #

I agree good sir, it is definitely an art to me as well. That was why I left my previous job as they were just soul crushing wanting me to belittle myself and be a hack and slash programmer instead of ever developing properly, I got absolutely sick of it.

John Suit
John Suit
10/27/2008 12:55:23 PM #

You are right. For me my old boss never understood that I was the real artist while he was nothing but a hack. How do you explain to a blind man what a rainbow looks like? They cannot see. They are blind.

At home I have lost at least three relationships because I refused to talk to them. I would come home and eat in front of the television so I could decompress. Then it was off to my precious computer for six more hours of creativity. I am waiting until the day that I can avoid talking to people except when its necessary. Its not as important to me as my creative freedoms creating beautiful code. Some call me a loser but that is ignorance to the passion I have for my art.

Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge
Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge
10/27/2008 2:22:47 PM #

That is still an open question, is coding an art. Philosophically speaking, there is a possibility that programming can be called art, since the definitions of art vary so much. According to one of them, anyone who feels he is an artist, is an artist (okay, that is one of the more liberal ones).

I feel that people often think that creativity equals art, but in my book, being creative does not make you an artist. I blogged recently about it here jelenavencl.wordpress.com/.../ .

Other than that, I feel like you; being creative while coding (I am also a programmer), solving problems in nice and elegant ways makes me happy and fulfilled. I feel passionate about it, and strongly prefer to work with the ones who also feel similarly about their work.

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