TITLE: Programming, Writing, and Clear Thinking AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 27, 2013 11:52 AM DESC: ----- BODY: This Fortune Management article describes a technique Jeff Bezos uses in meetings of his executive team: everyone begins by "quietly absorbing ... six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes". There is a good reason, Bezos knows, for an emphasis on reading and the written word:
There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.
This is certainly true for programming, that unique form of writing that drives the digital world. To write a well-structured, six-page computer program to perform a task, you have to be able to think clearly about your topic. Alas, the converse is not true, at least not without learning some specific skills and practicing a lot. But then again, that makes it just like writing narratives. My Programming Languages students this semester are learning that, for functional programming in Scheme, the size limit is somewhat south of six pages. More along the lines of six lines. That's a good thing if your goal is clear thinking. Work hard, clarify your thoughts, and produce a small function that moves you closer to your goal. It's a bad thing if your goal is to get done quickly. -----