Programming Is Life

Occasionally I mention that ProgrammingIsLife. All images of using algorithms to navigate social situations or coding late into the night aside, I think this is a useful notion to consider when meditating on the ArtOfProgramming and the MeaningOfLife.

You know, I've been programming since I was four. I've noticed that as I grow as a person, I grow as a programmer. As I learn better ways of manipulating data, abstracting, solving problems, my philosophy of life improves.

It cuts deeper than that. It pervades the very essence of how I operate both in front of a keyboard or in front of a person. The same metaphors, the same linguistic forms, the same shapes appear in both places. The patterns are everywhere.

I postulate that the connection comes from a simple fact: computer science, or information science as it was once called, is all about the formal manipulation of a mental reality. Your self is all about that mental reality, albeit informal.

I wish people got this. Then you'd use the same lessons you've learnt from programming in real life. For instance, it's best to write information OnceAndOnlyOnce, i.e. system documentation. And DoTheSimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork is a great strategy to mitigate risk in the RealWorld. And it's best to wait until you have as much information as possible before you make a decision, and then only at the last minute.

Those are simple examples. Like I said, it cuts deeper than that.


I've come to the conclusion that our occupations affect the way we view life. It only makes sense, since almost 1/2 of our waking lives is spent at work. The MentalModels that we form at work don't instantly flee from our minds when we leave the workplace.

Once during my college days I was having a conversation with my fiancee. She said that something "stems from" something else. I also noticed that when I talked about a similar relationship, I would say something "is a function of" something else. Her major was in Biology and mine in Computer Engineering.

I think it is very natural for the human mind to categorize new information and to make connections between what we see and what we already know. So it's not so much that reality reflects programming, but that when you see something in a non-programming context your brain muscles are still used to thinking in programming terms. -- WyattGreene


Humans are full of HeisenBugs.


See SecondSelf That would be a discussion of people who believe LifeIsProgramming...

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