Today, a gripe about coders. But it’s a gripe that makes them look good while making me look really bad.
Has anyone other than me noticed that often, when someone writes a nifty piece of re-usable code that automates a tedious task, that person explains his or her reasoning by saying, “I’m lazy. I don’t like to do things more than once.” I’ve seen this a zillion times. It’s a humblebrag that obscures what good coding means.
I’ve been tinkering online since the late 90s, when I started a little web magazine because the publisher I was working for had run out of money to print. Not a lot of people were doing this at the time, and it felt edgy, new, fun.
But it was painstaking work because the web wasn’t the fathoms-deep instructional resource it is today. Having had no training in programming, I had to buy cumbersome books and use clumsy technologies like FrontPage to do interesting things with the site.
Times are different now. It’s a snap to create dynamic websites without learning any programming at all. So that’s neat. But what’s even better is that if you want to learn some programming, there are all sorts of friendly folks out there who can help you. And the technologies themselves are more powerful and user-friendly.
So I’ve kept my hand in it mostly out of interest, as a hobby. The most ambitious project I’ve undertaken was a VBScript utility for online ticket sales. It used a relational database, allowed real-time credit card purchases, and was manageable through a web interface that volunteers could use. Not rocket science, but not peanuts either.
My code was a mess. It worked, but it was hugely inefficient and would not have been re-usable for any other project without major adjustments. It was easy to break and hard to fix. It was inconsistent and bulky.
So back to my first point. A lazy programmer (say, like me) does not write re-usable code. He or she writes code that only works for the project at hand, with no thought given to future application.
That’s what lazy is.
And a truly lazy person will repeat the same task over and over rather than think creatively of a way to deal with it once and for all. I know what worked once, so I’m gonna keep doing that rather than try something better. LAZY.
So hackers, maybe lose the fake humility and stop calling yourselves lazy when what you’re doing is actually the opposite of that. Also — and mainly — thanks for writing and sharing all that efficient, time-saving, scalable code, ya do-nothing bums.