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Code is not literature

Anonymous Coward writes | about 8 months ago

0

An anonymous reader writes "Hacker and author Peter Seibel has done a lot of work to adopt one of the most widely-accepted practices toward becoming a better programmer: reading high quality code. He's set up code reading groups and interviewed other programmers to see what code they read. But he's come to learn that that overwhelming majority of programmers don't practice what they preach. Why? He says, 'We don’t read code, we decode it. We examine it. A piece of code is not literature; it is a specimen.' He relates an anecdote from Donald Knuth about figuring out a Fortran compiler, and indeed, it reads more like a 'scientific investigation' than the process we refer to as 'reading.' Seibel is now changing his code reading group to account for this: 'So instead of trying to pick out a piece of code and reading it and then discussing it like a bunch of Comp Lit. grad students, I think a better model is for one of us to play the role of a 19th century naturalist returning from a trip to some exotic island to present to the local scientific society a discussion of the crazy beetles they found.'"
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