No és el mateix que programi un programador que programi un científic


Gràcies a una entrada de Slashdot titulada “The Code has Already Been Written“, he vist un divertit post del blog de John D. Cook, The Endeavour, titulat Software exoskeletons, s’hi diu que hi ha una forta diferència en com veuen un programa un científic i un programador informàtic:Scientists see their software as a kind of exoskeleton, an extension of themselves.

There’s a major divide between the way scientists and programmers view the software they write. Scientists see their software as a kind of exoskeleton, an extension of themselves. Think Dr. Octopus. The software may do heavy lifting, but the scientists remain actively involved in its use. The software is a tool, not a self-contained product. Programmers see their software as something they will hand over to someone else, more like building a robot than an exoskeleton. Programmers believe it’s their job to encapsulate intelligence in software. If users have to depend on programmers after the software is written, the programmers didn’t finish their job.

I també hi ha un diferent punt de vista sobre el que vol dir projecte:

One point of tension is defining when a project is done. To a scientist, the software is done when they get what they want out of it, such as a table of numbers for a paper. Professional programmers give more thought to reproducibility, maintainability, and correctness. Scientists think programmers are anal retentive. Programmers think scientists are cowboys.

I finalment, s’hi esmenta la diferència entre tenir un programa que fa una cosa i transformar-lo en producte:

The real tension comes when a piece of research software is suddenly expected to be ready for production. The scientist will say “the code has already been written” and can’t imagine it would take much work, if any, to prepare the software for its new responsibilities. They don’t understand how hard it is for an engineer to turn an exoskeleton into a self-sufficient robot.

Crec que aquest post té força raó. Naturalment jo estic al cantó científic, però m’ajuda a entendre els comentaris i postures que prenen els companys professionals informàtics. Que ens ensenyen moltes coses, als científics de l’àmbit teòric-computacional que fem programes.

Un dels comentaris (n’hi ha força i són interessants!) és prou adient:

I will add to the content of the blog that the end product of a programmers work is the software, and that is why they want to sell that or make its services available. The end product of a scientist producing software is not their software but the research outcome publications/copyrights IP generated from their software and so they see their software not as the end product but an extension to their body as exoskeleton which can help them get different end products!