Re: books on programming

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From: Kragen Sitaker (
Date: Mon Jan 01 2001 - 19:50:00 PST

Gregory Alan Bolcer writes:
> Poor bastard. He was probably just hoping for "Java for Idiots" & you
> dump a bunch of philosophy on him. 8-)

I realized that by the end; I'm not sure what the right thing to do is,
though. Should I really recommend "Java for Idiots"? Would that
really be a service to him? Would it even give him what he wanted?
Most people who try to learn to program get very frustrated early on,
because they aren't getting what they want.

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.

I spent many years (roughly age 4 to age 14) thinking I knew a lot
about programming because I knew a lot about the accidental aspects:
the details of particular languages and particular libraries. I was
too arrogant to recognize the extent of my ignorance, and so I learned
very slowly.

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.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we possess
       -- Gandalf the White [J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Two Towers", Bk 3, Ch. XI]

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