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July 24th, 2011:

The Difference Between Scientist-code and Programmer-code

This was just on slashdot, so I imagine many will have already read about it, but for those who haven’t, here’s a wonderful metaphor to understand the difference between how scientists (biologists anyway) code, and how professional computer people (some of whom as also scientists) do:

Scientists see their software as a kind of exoskeleton, an extension of themselves. … The software may do heavy lifting, but the scientists remain actively involved in its use. The software is a tool, not a self-contained product.

Programmers see their software as something they will hand over to someone else, more like building a robot than an exoskeleton. Programmers believe it’s their job to encapsulate intelligence in software. If users have to depend on programmers after the software is written, the programmers didn’t finish their job.

The full post was writing by a fellow named John D. Cook and is available over on his website(more…)