I’ve decided to re-brand what I do – and what I am – as “codemaker”.
The term programmer conjures up images of a nerdy kid “hunching” over a keyboard attached to a desktop computer in his mama’s basement. Software developer sounds like more of the same, but with a product for sale at the end. Nobody knows what a “systems analyst” is, or does. Software architect is too unwieldy for daily use, and sometimes requires a license to be an “architect”. And consultant is, in the minds of many, simply someone who doesn’t have a “job”.
Enter “maker”. To quote Wikipedia:
“The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture which is less concerned with physical objects (opposed to software) and the creation of new devices (opposed to tinkering with existing ones). Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and, mainly, its predecessor, the traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses a cut-and-paste approach to standardized hobbyist technologies, and encourages cookbook re-use of designs published on websites and maker-oriented publications. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them to reference designs.
So, let’s break that down a little bit.
The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture
Yes, programming is more or less a “culture”. Or, at least a “subculture” of the greater tech culture. We often act differently than everyone else, and we certainly think differently. We have to.
I’ve rarely met a “real” programmer I would consider narrow-minded. Since our industry – what we do – is constantly changing, it is necessary for us to change right along with it. We must evolve. Or die.
That requires a more adaptive mind. We have to accept the premise that what we embraced yesterday may not even be a consideration today. And the new thing we are embracing today may be old news tomorrow. As such, we learn to live with “cognitive dissonance” on a daily basis.
representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture.
By nature a “real” programmer is a do-it-yourselfer. Yes, we have adopted various tools and common methodologies that make our lives easier. But, I’ve never met a “real” programmer who doesn’t think he or she couldn’t rewrite an entire application and make is “so much better”. Been there, done that.
And, by nature a “real” programmer is also a hacker. Who doesn’t want to peek under the hood to discover how a program “does that“? In this case, curiosity makes the cat smarter. (Hopefully).
the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing
Well, duh. That’s my (our) world. Nothing in the vast world of technology is out-of-bounds for a “real” programmer.
and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and, mainly, its predecessor, the traditional arts and crafts.
And, here’s the part that really describes me. Yes, despite my high-tech job and experience, I have a huge interest in all of those things, especially CNC tools (which I drool over). Making things with my hands, and not just my mind, is an intricate part of my nature.
The subculture stresses a cut-and-paste approach
What a computer oriented term, eh? “Real” programmers like to “clone” existing programs as use already proven functionality for new projects. Is that the realization of “cut-and-paste”, or what?
A good programmer is a lazy programmer. Who wants to – and how many times can you – reinvent the wheel?
encourages cookbook re-use of designs published on websites and maker-oriented publications.
I’ve “cloned” routines and entire programs from websites and forums in the past. It’s just part of the “cut-and-paste” mentality, I guess.
There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills
Thanks to the internet, this is much more possible now than it ever was in the past.
When I first started doing this, the only way to get training was by attending college courses (generally boring), or attend the occasional seminar or conference (generally expensive and often rare).
Yes, books can be great, but a printed copy is often obsolete by the time you get your hands on it. (Or, at least it was in the old, pre-internet days). E-books help, but they can also lose their value quickly. Up-to-date forums and blogs are (generally) better.
and applying them to reference designs.
So, there you have it. “Maker” is a term that pretty much describes what I do as well as who I am. It has a certain feel to it that is somewhat less sterile and maybe a bit friendlier than some of the other monikers. “Maker” suggests creativity that comes from the heart and implemented via a highly developed skill set.
A watchmaker can be called a “horologist”, but that seems somewhat snobbish or clinical/academic. Same with dressmaker vs. modiste or seamstress.
While it’s true that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, how would you react if someone came up to you and said, “Hey, smell this beautiful Hesperrhodos“? A botanist might love the reference, but not the layman. Sometimes context is the winner.
I am a “codemaker”.
- Maker Culture(alishasaiyed.wordpress.com)
- Selling Out and the Death of Hacker Culture(news.ycombinator.com)