Construction work, code, and what we value

By Charlie Owen on

Code is not the paragon of skills.

Having spent a week DIYing, I find myself thinking of devs who claim "I can do anyone else's job, but no one else can do mine". Mate, as the daughter of a Trade family, I implore you go work on a construction site for a month. I guarantee that it will fucking BREAK you. You couldn't handle it. I say this as someone who grew up on building sites, who drove diggers, who learned to saw before she could write.

"But code is hard, and manual stuff is easy". Haha, NO. Code is currently WELL PAID, which is why you think it's hard. That's a very different thing from one actually being more difficult than the other. (Homework: reflect on how you use capitalism to determine the worth of others)

Most mediocre devs will react angrily to this. "I could put up a shelf, but that thick-thumbed oik couldn't compile an app!" Sweet arrogant dev, a shelf is the "hello, world" of construction. You wouldn't call someone who could only code "hello, world" an expert. What is it about insecure people that they think they did one thing, once, at a beginner level, and they suddenly think they're an expert?

Try measuring up and building even a a simple shed that would be considered "competent" by a Trade person.

You. Could. Not. Do. It.

I'm getting ratty at the paradoxical insecurity and delusions of grandeur that accompany our industry. Valuing the skills of others does not devalue your own skills! This is not a zero sum game!

So this weekend, if you're a dev, go watch a professional do something - a construction worker, a baker, a painter, a wood worker. Admire their talent and their skill, and appreciate how much hard work it took for them to get there. Look at the subtlety and wonder of their trade.

Appreciate how good they are, and how equal and valuable to yours their skill set is.

[This post was a series of tweets that I glued together when I realised twitter threads are awful].