Thinking Like a Web Developer

I've been reading a lot about web development in the last few weeks. I'm not exactly sure why. There are some interesting things going on in terms of the technology. Frameworks that provide for some interesting possibilities abound, and while I don't know if the web is the only future for programing, it's certainly a big part of the future of the way we interact with computers.

So what are you working on developing tycho?

A whole lot of noting. I know how the technology works. I know--more or less--how to build things for the web, and yet I've not said "you know what I need to build? A web app that does [this awesome thing]"

Maybe it's because I'm unimaginative in this regard, or that I tend to think of web applications being a nearly universally wrong solution to any given problem.

I think it's quite possible that both of these things are true. It's also likely that when approached with a problem with technology or with data, I don't instinctively think about how to solve it pragmatically, much less with some sort of web-based system. As I think about it might be the fact that my mind is intensely qualitative. In my psych major days I always had problems coming up with ides for non-hokey quantitative studies (Insofar as such things exist.)

In a lot of ways the questions I ask of the technology aren't (particularly) "how can I manage this data better," but rather how can I interact with this technology more efficiently. While I don't think data interaction is a solved problem, I feel like I'm pretty far ahead of the game, and that the things I do to improve how I work has more to do with tweaking my system to shape the content and way that I'm working. While there's often some little bits of code involved, it's not the kind of thing that's generalizable in the way that an application or web site might be.

The Imperative Tense

Most of the time, you put me in a room with programmers and tell us to talk about our work, the conversation will be really lively. Aside from the fact that I use programmers tools to write, and use a very iterative approach

One thing I notice many of my coworkers doing is saying "I'm going to write a program that's going to do these four things, and it's going to be written in such a way as to make these other things possible," (insert words of awesomeness in this sentence.) And I think "Cool! I can't wait!"

For a long time this way of talking confused me and almost put me on edge. When I have an idea for a new project, I get these images, and an interesting concept to toy with and I have little conversations in my head with the characters, and I see their world from their eyes, and it's sort of an absurd experience and I don't tell people about this. I mean, I might say "I got an awesome idea for a new book," but usually not more than that. And the truth is that I get ideas for stories all the time and I know that I'll never really be able to write most of them.

I'm okay with the way programmers plan projects, and I'm pretty happy with my own methodology. Having said that, I think the difference in the way that I think about and plan projects has a lot to do with the way I think about these things.

Onward and Upward!

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