Who really appreciates software engineers?


Computer science is a relatively young science compared to others, like math, physics, chemistry, medicine etc. Especially computer science, as we know it today, started its development since Alan Turing‘s era and work. And till today a lot of people do not understand, nor appreciate the work we do and the results we deliver.

Think yourself, a software developer, sitting at a table with other STEM people. And suddenly someone comes at your table and ask what do you do for a living. Who do you think will have to provide the most information about their work? The doctor? The chemist? The architect? The mathematician? You got it! The software developer!

Oh you work with computers!

When I was younger, and sometimes even today, I had, and I have, to explain to older people what I do for a living. The concept of a computer device that does almost anything was too big for them. Especially when I told them I program them!

Unfortunately the same thing happens with some (much) younger people. It is uncanny to me that a young person doesn’t know how a computer and internet work, and how a software is developed. No, no, no I am not talking to know in depth the details of our work, but simple general things, like the fact that a programming language allows us to instruct the computer’s CPU to execute some calculations and save the results to the RAM or the hard drive! And no, I am not exaggerating! Unfortunately I don’t keep a diary with all the crazy things I have heard all those years.

The next big thing idea!

Another thing that I don’t like, is people who believe they have the next big thing idea and need a software developer to make it for them. And I feel really sad about the developer who will go down the rabbit hole listening to bullshit from people who think that software is developed with magic and want to underpay. And you end up explaining to them all the fallacies, the limitations, the cost and the human resources needed, they put themselves into the denial domain and return with counter arguments that make no sense! The worse case scenario is that managers and bosses do the same. And if you have to face them 9-5 every day…. oh boy!

Oh come on, you just press some keys

And we come the worse point of human interaction between a software developer and anybody else. The ones that try to humiliate you, to make you feel bad by degrading your profession. Well if our jobs was just to press some keys then everybody would it. And unfortunately this toxic behaviour is not only against software developers but almost any profession. I have seen people bossing and deriding doctors! There is no limit for those people!

Rate my setup!

I really enjoy when people upload their setups at 9gag and ask from the other users to rate their setups. I don’t care if setups are actually their or they do it for points and the comments, but I have seen great setups. And I have been asking myself “Why don’t we see similar setups at the offices?”. Yes, the cost, I know. You can’t buy really good chairs and desks for 20, 50, 100, 500 employees and I can’t accept working seating to a shitty chair and to a horrible desk. Our work, is mental, and this means our body must be relaxed. If it is impossible to seat properly, or after a time my body is pain, I will not be able to as productive as expected.

The open space hell

The original idea of open space offices goes back in the 50s by a team in Hamburg, who thought that this would help the communication among employees.I worked at an open space office, and no it didn’t help at all. 60 people in a huge room, all of us with headset on in order to survive the noise. Add the chit chat, the long conversations, I don’t know how this open space thing helps software developers to be productive. At least it didn’t help me. A prefer working in a small office, three to four people max.

We are invisible

Ask your non software related friends if they know five people. Artists, politicians, athletes and one the names let it be a computer science person. How many do you think they know the CS person? We “know” each other, through blogs, books, magazines, you tube, conferences but we are completely out of the mainstream media. Maybe in the States things are better, but related to what mainstream media show in the 195 countries around the globe, I don’t think we are a priority.

In the end who appreciates us?

In my humble opinion, I believe that we still have a lot of milestones to achieve till people understand us better. TV series like The Big Bang Theory and IT crowd depict the truth more or less. The bottom line is that scientists in general are not appreciated enough, it’s not just us the source code riders. This article could last forever trying to analyze why this is happening, but I leave the rest to you!

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