The psychology of computer programming

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Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971 - Computers - 288 pages
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Despite being from 1971 and drawing its material from the card-punch era, this book is still essential reading for anyone who does computer programming or deals with computer programmers in a non-trivial way.
Its explicit aim is to open a new field of study: the ways in which our individual personality traits and psychology impact on our activity as computer programmers, and its findings bring illumination to anyone who deals more than trivially with computer programming. Among other things it clearly points out several ways in which well-meaning but misguided attempts by managers to improve productivity can actually bring the programming activity to a complete standstill, and shows some ways in which programmers can unconsiously frustrate their own goals by over-identifying with the code they write ("it is a product of me, so any shortcoming in it is a criticism of me, therefore it has no defects"), and makes a strong case for egoless programming as the only healthy mental attitude to code.
Even in the current climate of open-source software development, a revolution its author could never have forseen, it loses none of its relevence, since its subject remains the human beings who perform this unusual activity.

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Although it was first published in 1971, most of this book still feels up-to-date, as long as you can ignore the occasional reference to punch cards and tapes. Despite all the change in software ... Read full review


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