Code is a Contract

Every thing digital has an analog version from the past. It took me a long time to figure out what exactly programmers see code as.

It’s called a programming language, but programmers don’t exactly act like English teachers.

If you watch programming comments on forums and issues for repos, they nitpick over every word and use, even if it is working. They get extremely pedantic about what libraries you use. They have strong opinions about the original intent of coding patterns.

There is only one profession that acts like this. Lawyers.

Programmers want to become code lawyers.

Now with the blockchain and smart contracts, there are literal contracts that cannot be changed once they are out there.

If programming follows the same pattern exactly as lawyers, there will be a huge swath of mediocre programmers and talented programmers will group together and charge hourly rates.

Most programmers are indeed mediocre, although that is partly because it is new and the industry is changing so fast. It is changing so fast because the amount of code written and widely used every day is increasing. Just like a lawyer who can’t possible read all the 300 page bills coming out of Congress, a programmer can’t keep up. There are now 70,000+ pages in the entirety of the US tax code. A programmer cannot simply go through every library and understand what is happening.

A Bar Association would certainly fix the broken hiring systems for programmers. Imagine a lawyer having to prove their entire ability to practice law in every interview. I don’t see the rate of code coming out slowing down anytime soon though. The paradigm completely changes every few years without fail so far. An expert in dev ops may have no idea on how backend programming works. A backend programmer may have no idea on how frontend frameworks work. A frontend developer may have no idea on how smart contracts work.

I meet many programmers who are so fed up and afraid of their ability to have a career path when they are past 40 when everything is changing all the time. Anytime I see a trend forming, I try to experiment in the opposite direction. Code can do more than be a legal contract. It just happens to be most widely used to run business logic.

Can code be used as art? For comedy? There are certainly games. It felt like the internet of the 90s wasn’t afraid to explore this direction. I look forward to seeing more experimentation.