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Software Engineers Will Work One Day for English Majors - Bloomberg

Stashed in: 106 Miles, Education!, Pixar, Trolling!, Robot Jobs

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I beg to differ. I'd like to think that we age like fine wine. Perhaps this is true in the corporate path, but the startup world can definitely benefit even further from aged geeks and their awesome quiver of experiences.

On the other hand, we do live in an era when companies like Google, Apple, and Pixar can conspire to not poach each others' engineers:

I'd like to think that growing numbers of people will embrace both writing English and programming languages. That's my aspiration. Sort of like learning bass after figuring out guitar.... or to quote a reasonably famous guy: "I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics. Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do." Steve Jobs

Will there be a time when English majors can just say "Siri, code this for me..."?

Put that next to a voice activated next-gen Makerbot and the world starts changing dramatically very quickly...

Dammit, I was a history major but I ended up working as a software engineer for a guy who was a CS major! It's unjust, I tell you!

Actually, I have a serious point to make here. I was educated at the most pedagogically old-fashioned school in the entire USA, the University of Chicago. We read all original sources (aka great books), were forced to take 2 full years of general education, wrote constantly, and argued in class a lot. We did not at the time have a computer science department, and I wouldn't have studied it even if we did.

A general education such as this is extremely expensive -- not just financially, but in the sense of time and opportunity cost and risk. Taking a 16 year old from Tacoma WA, filling up her head with the Iliad and the Wealth of Nations and the Origin of Species, and trusting in a centuries-old process that will eventually allow her to find employment on the absolute cutting edge of social technology?!?!? The notion sounds crazy -- and in a lot of ways I understand that this is the experience that education reformers want to get rid of.

But you know... it worked for me. Jumping from history to computers was hard work, but not nearly as hard as you'd think because I was already used to learning systematically. I've had many critical opportunities -- writing a programming book, designing a shared-nothing architecture, raising VC money -- that were completely dependent on my comfort level with writing and speaking and even arguing in public. Confident communicators are more like to be promoted to management positions, and to be better at cross-functional tasks like marketing.

I think the original article here was a bit of a troll, but it's indisputable that a lot of very smart technologists end up working for what we used to call "Princeton spiffies" -- especially if you count venture capitalists as your bosses. The original mission of 106 Miles has always been to help engineers understand these situations and avoid being taken advantage of... and this site will hopefully be an extension of that mission.

I say fooey too. This attitude strikes me as the kind of thing a management type would say, someone who believes in the mythical man month. For engineering jobs, I want experienced engineers. I did like that comment about the latest programming fad, but when it comes down to it, the persons got to know what works in real life and what doesn't. If he/she/it doesn't know the difference between a bubble sort and a quicksort, they're not going to be of much use (there's a classic paper by Sutherland et al that relates sorting to 3D graphics, so it's very pertinent).

I'm hiring right now, for a junior engineering position so I'm willing to take someone young, but later on, for the senior positions, I'll want someone with substantial experience.

Software engineers will one day work for English majors... did they structure the sentence incorrectly as a joke? Am I crazy to think that the original sentence structure was incorrect?

Touche, Nathaniel!

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