Programmers at Work

Posted on March 3, 2008  Comments (5)

Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry. Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google had written a very positive review of it on Amazon

If you want to know what programmers do, the best thing is to read their code, but failing that (or in addition to that) you need to read interviews like this. I wish someone would do another book like this covering programmers of the last 15 years, but this one has a very good selection of programmers from the early PC era, and the interviews are very well-done: they let the programmer speak, yet the interviewer keeps them on track.

The author of the book, Susan Lammers, is now publishing the interviews and new discussions online. For example: Butler Lampson 1986/2008 Reflections

Lampson: Everything should be made as simple as possible. But to do that you have to master complexity.

Lampson: A beautiful program is like a beautiful theorem: It does the job elegantly. It has a simple and perspicuous structure; people say, “Oh, yes. I see that’s the way to do it.”

via: Confessions of a Science Librarian

Related: Founders at Work (Wozniak and more)Donald Knuth, Computer ScientistProgramming Grads Meet a Skills Gap in the Real WorldLean Software DevelopmentA Career in Computer Programming

5 Responses to “Programmers at Work”

  1. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » A Programmers Take on Agile Software Development
    April 6th, 2008 @ 8:25 am

    I am also a strong proponent of agile software development. Information Technology projects have a poor success rate. The best method, I have found, to provide better software solutions is agile development…

  2. CuriousCat: Interview with Donald Knuth
    April 26th, 2008 @ 9:29 am

    “the idea of working in teams and reading each other’s code. That idea is crucial, and it might even mask out all the terrible aspects of extreme programming that alarm me…”

  3. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » The Manager FAQ
    November 20th, 2008 @ 8:20 am

    My manager counts from one 🙁 Ordinals (counting numbers) have always started from one; counting from zero, while obvious and natural to many programmers, is probably wrong from a linguistic standpoint. Try to be flexible.

  4. Mark
    March 23rd, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    Mary Poppendieck wrote a very good book on Lean Software Development that I use as reference. An easy read with good anecdotes.

  5. Learn to Code to Help Your Career » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    December 9th, 2014 @ 8:29 am

    The profound ignorance (meant not in a pejorative way but in the descriptive way) of software is a significant problem for managers today. The critical role of software in our organizations is only growing…

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