Re: books on programming

From: John Regehr (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 08:29:22 PST

> I think the issue is that programming is harder than people expect.
> The books I listed address the essential difficulties of programming, I
> think, but they are harder than people expect --- but I don't think
> anything anyone can do will make programming as easy as nonprogrammers
> expect it to be.

Exactly. So the problem that people aren't getting what they want isn't
necessarily the fault of the books, since they often have unrealistic
expectations. Those huge, awful "learn X in 21 days" books benefit from
people's naivete. I sometimes tell people that becoming a good
programmer is probably as much work as becoming fluent in a second
language: it requires concerted effort over a period of years.
> So what's the right thing to do? How can we get people programming
> while instilling that kind of humility in them? SICP seems like a
> decent start.

Programming is just hard. Most users don't need to do it. If us
programmers did a better job providing people with applications that
were extensible in intuitive, domain-specific ways, then fewer people
would need to wander into the turing tarpit. Or maybe I'm just


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