In my view, programmers strive towards being able to sculpt processes in real time at the pace of their evolving understanding of what they’re trying to do. That’s the zone, the flow state. Today’s tools and environments are much better than yesterday’s and the trajectory of things in general give me every reason to anticipate that tomorrow’s will dwarf today’s all over again. That expectation sometimes seems to be half of what drives the whole damn monster in the first place.
The more I write code the more clearly I butt up against certain realities of the process. As programmers we typically use text editors to jump a cursor around a virtual 2-D surface that has all sorts of subtle little rules that inform the muscles at every turn of the geometry of the space. There are other dimensions to this, other GUIs and various mappings.
Then there’re the ideas we’re structuring – what we’re really trying to do: to define and connect processes. To build the infrastructure for those processes and their connections. To get insight into what is happening as it happens. To see what we’ve wrought to wring out the next.
It’s clear that this enterprise is and has always been entirely separate and totally disconnected from the tools used to carry it out. Right now, around the world, the vast majority of programmers build logic via the mouse, keyboard and monitor. Oh, these tools.
It’s important. I’m not whining about RSI. Rather, I encounter frequently the human brain and the stark realities of the ways it functions. The more effort it takes to express an idea, the less get expressed. The more ceremony that exists around a thing the more set-aside and the less frequent it becomes.
Even conversations have structure and can be well or poorly organized for the efficient communication and transformation of input into output. In fact, when I look at things with unfocused eyes I can see that all the same problems that exist for coders exist for speakers. Communication is complicated – there are so many things going on at the same time. There is a stream of information being communicated and transformed by multiple intellects with varying vocabularies and degrees of familiarity with the subject matter while simultaneously, a bunch of posturing bodies shifting their positions on what is being said and their relationship to the evolving trajectory of the subconscious consensus field. Conversations can have flow state too.
In this way, the dual advancements of technology and scientific understanding are both in the service of this single end – getting out of the way those details that slow down the transformation of will into effect – communication. This is something that is happening at the global scale because it is happening at the individual scale and individuals organize into global networks that feedback evolving behaviors to those individuals.
Wizards in utero.