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26Dec/090

Profession vs. Technology

Whenever I hear a statement linking one’s profession to a specific technology (“a .Net programmer”, “a Java programmer”, “a Sharepoint developer”, “ a Ruby-on-Rails specialist”…) I cringe, and recall this story:  Profession by Isaac Asimov first published in 1957 (which I read for the first time in the late 1970s... )

This story I recommend as a required reading for every aspiring programmer, budding scientist or  high school student.

The story  is about a boy who aspires to be a Programmer, and discovers along the way that there is more to it than just a technology to master..The full text of the story (in pdf format) is available here;  for those allergic to science fiction here's a synopsis of the story in Wikipedia.

To summarize: a technology is too narrow to define a profession; maybe this is why technology certifications became virtually worthless. I do not want “Java Programmer” on my team;  I want a programmer who can use Java – or whatever technology we might be using at the moment to create a solution.

 Technologies come and go – no matter how hot they may seem today. What stays is refined body of knowledge, patterns and paradigms, rules to follow and rules to be broken... Nothing stays the same, all axioms have to be constantly re-evaluated. 

The quest is not to achive eternal bliss where everything is set once and for all, but to move forward with imperfect solutions optimal for that particular moment in time.. A catapult might have been the pinnacle of military technology innovation in it's time - and is a historical curiosity for several hundreds years now; but the lessons learned percolated into ballistic, structural engineering and rocket science...