"Writing software should be treated as a creative activity..." says Richard Gabriel, who is a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems. In the article The Poetry of Programming, he discusses the finer points of writing good software and how the latest methodologies have influenced the way we look at the fine art of programming. Richard believes that a better way to train computer programmers is to train them like poets and other artists are trained. Creating while reflecting. In fact, he is currently working on developing an educational program that is probably going to be called something like a Master of Software Arts.
"Writing code certainly feels very similar to writing poetry. When I'm writing poetry, it feels like the center of my thinking is in a particular place, and when I'm writing code the center of my thinking feels in the same kind of place. It's the same kind of concentration. So, I'm thinking up possibilities, I'm thinking about, well, so how do I reinvent the code, gee, you know, what's the simplest way to do this."
-- Richard Gabriel.
We both went to Stanford around the same time, but I do not remember seeing him in the Quad when I was cycling to my classes. Back then they started this experimental class called "Computer Science" of all things. Sounded just too esoteric and weird for me, and all I remember is a bunch of nerds sitting behind glass, eating donuts and pounding on the keyboard the whole day. Or did they have keyboards back in those days. What a shame that I missed the boat then, so close and yet so far.
I am always glad to see members of the older generation (still young at heart though) playing an influential role in the development of the art of programming, the Internet, etc. Sometimes I lose heart sitting around just programming and doing all kinds of computer stuff, when my friends and neighbors keep telling me to get a hold of my life and do something more commercial (worthwhile) with my life.
You might also want to visit his website called Dreamsongs where one can find an extensive collection of essays, poetry and other really good stuff. Richard, if you happen to read this, thanks alot and keep up the great work!