Joseph Choe

Not Just a Code Monkey

I’m always more than a little baffled by the inherent contradictions in software development.

Software developers are well paid for the amount of training necessary to do the job, which is very little to be honest. Companies offer perks that many other people would love to have, trying to find ways to entice talented folks to work for their company.

And yet software developers are in many ways nothing more than glorified window washers. Other people tell you what code to write, and then you go and do that.

There’s even a term for this strange concept: code monkey. A programmer who just writes code that other people tell them to write and doesn’t think about anything outside of that.

Even though companies will pay their software developers very handsomely, most of the time companies don’t want someone to be creative and to think outside the box. They really just want a corps of yes-men.

If you’re paying someone so much money, you’re really paying someone for their mind, and not necessarily for their software development skills, which if we’re being honest can be learned quite easily. But quite often that mind is left to languish in favor of outputting as many lines of code as possible with little or no thought. If you wonder why so many software development projects fail or why so many project are big piles of mud, this is a big part of why.

I wonder if that’s because having a group of independent-minded thinkers terrifies the executives at the top of the company. I don’t know. It doesn’t really make sense to me otherwise.

Anywho, this wasn’t a fully formed thought yet, just something that’s been percolating in the brain pan for a few years.