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Coding: It's Just Writing


I blogged about the same thing a while back: http://mitch-wheat.blogspot.com/2006/09/elements-of-composition.html


The posts on this website are fun reads but illustrate man’s greatest strength and weakness. Take any person (who is not completely retarded) and give them a monotonous task for an extended period of time. Every single one will adapt and create some kind of system that makes doing the task more efficient.

Without jumping into my distaste for economic systems, the same thing becomes ridiculously apparent when you put rewards into the mix. So now, instead of having programmers programming, they’re using the majority of their time coming up with better ways to program. Now I won’t act like a complete idiot and neglect the benefit of performance analysis or the significance of efficiency indices but at what point do we actually stop?

Is it ok for genres to cross-over till the lines that delineate them become indistinguishable? Is it possible to determine diminishing returns for our perpetual ponderances? Apparently it is, as the proliferation of specialized fields nest to infinity sprouting self sufficing support mechanisms for every field, justifying the bureaucracy that gives rise to suspiciously nondescript positions.

Again, I won’t ignore the fact that most advances made my man comes from individuals who specialize in specializing. But now, in our modern age, as we are able to look across the globe and accurately compare ourselves with others there seems to be some desperate grasping and knawing going on. Everyone seems to be going to the ends of preposterous to define themselves. In the absence of fiscal systems or rewards, there will always be currency - some way to seperate one man from another and hence create or maintain stratification.

This post is such a product. As the economic systems continue to fail and the majority of the world gradually accepts that it was never sustainable, mediums such as the internet will make it clearer that man’s greatest desire is validation. And that desire will drive him to say the blatanly obvious so long as he continues to get satisfaction fromt he droves who may clamour around his work.

Yes, I did have a small spat with punctuation, kept getting in the way of my diatribes.


hey, the quality of your posts are detiriorating Jeff


that you know a good time to share information


I learned a lot from both The Elements of Style and The Elements of Programming Style (Kernighan and Plauger). The second is inspired by the first. Many of the rules are truly timeless. Recommended reading (if you’re not too allergic to Fortran).


Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.

  • Martin Fowler, Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code


Well, this topic cannot be discussed without mentioning the recent book Clean Code by uncle bob. Well worth the read!

E.g. consider a class as a newspaper article… headlines, intro and increasing detail. The class should read as a story. One of many wonderful propositions in the book :slight_smile:


hmm, in my view, the quote from EoS had poorly constructed sentences.

When I was younger I always had trouble with writing clear prose, but I enjoyed reading and at one point wanted to be a video games journalist. Anyway, I never made any headway towards journalism, but have endeavoured in the past few years to improve my writing. I like to read political opininion columns and film reviews, so that’s the basis of my own blog. I made a rule, which I usually break, but I try to have no more than 500 words in a post. This was partly a response to reading Yegge.

My Data Structures and Algorithms lecturer told us in our first lecture that we should strive for elegance.

Flowing, flowery prose soaring to majestic heights, that if recited would be rhetoric to stir the soul of man or even beast, can be as enjoyable as the finest music. Thus the connection holds only so far. I have yet to see code I would want to read if I didn’t have to.


Geoffrey K. Pullum writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education and is not impressed with SW:

50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice



The Elements of Style is a book everyone owns but no one opens. Learning by precepts is so trite.


I agree 100% about the removing unnecessary words in relation to programming…however, I think whether or not it is sensible to have “unnecessary” or I read that as sometimes redundant words in writing may be warranted or useful. Reiteration to reduce interpretive drift. If I’m writing to someone or a group of people that I am unfamiliar with, or seem to have a different cognitive stack, I will deliberately reword ideas at least twice, and then lexically overlap the ideas. This is certainly using “unnecessary” words, at least as I interpret the passage, but sometimes I feel it is necessary. Again, not referring to programming in that regard. I find what I do in this regard reinforces the intention by using at least 2 vantage points in the articulations.