Is programming a dirty job?

A though provoking talk by Mike Rowe at TED about dirty jobs. Is coding/programming a dirty job then? How do we encourage people that coding and hacking code is a intellectually fun and dirty job?


  1. At times I am prone to thinking that programming in itself can be a “dirty” job. For when you think about it, few people really do it and understand programming. But there is a need for is that increases by the day, and programming is slowing becoming something that society is becoming reliant upon as society obsession with the online world grows.
    Like construction workers in a way, we build things for people to use… but few if any truly appreciate the work that goes into a building (or application for that matter). The man hours, the pain, the toil… and the world continues to be silently thankful for the work,

  2. It can be
    I think that programming runs the gamut from clean to dirty, much like a surgeon can go from a pristine (and relatively safe) specialty like hand reconstruction to a dirty front-line war “meatball surgery”.
    I used to work in telecom, and when you are updating 50,000 or more network elements in a night, it’s dirty. The code you write to workaround a problem has to work, and it has to come into existence and complete execution within the upgrade window. It doesn’t need to be nicely indented, it doesn’t need comments, it doesn’t need a maintainable structure. It needs to get the job done.
    Few programmers in my experience can work under that kind of pressure. You have 17 minutes to create the code. You have 10 minutes…5, 3, 1 – start execution!
    The resulting code would horrify anyone that saw it, but it’s only going to be used once and discarded – that particular problem will not be allowed to re-occur in future planning sessions.
    That’s the dirty side of programming. It’s a long way from sitting in a cubicle with a two month deadline, development specs and guidelines and a test/QA team.
    I wouldn’t give up that “meatball coding” experience for anything, and it has changed the way I write code for myself. I first get my code to work (which may only take an hour), then I get it to work right (which may take months). The difference is that I have functionality months earlier.
    It’s been a long time since I received my computer science degree, but that was never on the curriculum. I doubt that has changed. Are we doing the same thing – ignoring or making fun of the dirty jobs in programming?

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