2 min read

How would you describe programming?

Can you describe programming in 5 words? It’s pretty difficult. Even explaining it in a basic and straightforward way can be challenging. You type stuff… and then it turns into something else or makes something happen. Or, as is often the case, something doesn’t happen.

Twitter account @abstractionscon asked its followers “what 5 words best describe programming?” The results didn’t disappoint. There was a mix of funny, slightly tragic, and even poetic evocations and descriptions of what programming is and what it feels like. It turns out that more often than not, it simply feels frustrating. Things go wrong a lot.

One of the most interesting aspects of the conversation was how it brings to light just how challenging it is to put programming into language.

That’s reflected in many of the responses to the original tweet. One of the conclusions we can probably draw from this is that not only is describing programming pretty hard, it’s also pretty funny. And from that, perhaps it’s also true that programming is generally a pretty funny thing to do.

But then why would that be surprising? You learn from an early age that getting a computer to do what you want is difficult, so why should writing software be any different?

Take a look at some of the best attempts to describe programming below. Which is your favourite? And how would you describe programming?

Thank you Twitter for your insights and jokes. It does make you feel better to know that there are millions of people out there with the same frustrations and software-induced high blood pressure. The next time something goes wrong remember you’re really just meat teaching sand to think. Hopefully that should put everything into perspective.

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Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.


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