Darth Paradox (darthparadox) wrote,
Darth Paradox

I write words that make computers do things.

Inspired by XKCD's Up-Goer Five, there's a meme going around where people try to describe their jobs (or other technical subjects) using only the thousand most common words in English. The Up-Goer Five Text Editor is quite useful for this. So here's my attempt.
I write words to make computers do what I want them to do. This is hard because computers are very good at following directions but very bad at thinking for themselves. So sometimes I write something that I think will make the computer do what I want, but it turns out that the computer thinks it means something different. Then I have to figure out why.

But that's only part of my job. I spend a lot of time planning out what kinds of things we want the computers to do, since they have to work with a lot of other computers, which are all doing their own things. Sometimes the stuff we know about what those other computers are doing turns out to be wrong. Sometimes there are things that we know our computers are doing wrong, but we can't make time to make the computers do it right. And of course I spend a lot of time talking with people about what they want our computers to do - making what they want fit in with what we can make the computers actually do can be very hard.

Really, I got lucky that "computer" was on the list. That wouldn't have been the case twenty years ago, and I'm not even sure about ten.
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