Business IT – Art or Science?

I seem to be getting a little more philosophical these days….

I believe most serious and proficient programmers see programming as more of a science than an art.  I think the best and most practical ‘Business IT’ programmers regard programming as a both a creative and scientific occupation.

We (as programmers) can fit into several categories. 

  1. The hard core techy who still wouldn’t look out of place at an 80’s Microsoft staff party.  They’re almost certainly male, and see computing (not IT) as a science which should ideally be funded by a bottomless government grant.  These guys don’t allow themselves any technical option other than the Rolls Royce.  Their daytime (and night time) occupation involves a keyboard and an mouse.  These people are also not primarily motivated by money.

  2. The hippy programmer who’s talented but a bit lazy, and always has a conflict of interests.  They’d rather be off surfing than tapping away at a keyboard but they find they strangely miss the creative outlet when away from it for too long.  They’re probably more interested in the business than the IT, but that may depend on the industry.  Banking will probably turn these guys off!  They’re interested in IT as it suits them as a day to day thing.  They’re mostly interested in just having enough money to support their lifestyle outside of IT.

  3. The business IT professional who’s probably a jack of all trades and potentially master of most of them.  They’re confident in their technical ability, but are still not quite as comfortable in the ‘business’ arena.  They want to understand the business but don’t want to be bound by it.  They’re often frustrated by the commercial compromises they have to make to their ‘elegant’ solutions.  They’re motivated by a combination of money (good market rate), people they work with and the work they do.

These are obviously generalisations and also an incomplete list, but I certainly know more than one person ‘clearly’ in each category.  A lot of people may have elements of each character (I do).

I think those that recognise business IT as a combination of art and science are probably on the right track…