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 Forum index » Off-Topic Area » Programming
Why writing is hard / Writing vs Computer Programming
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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug 2009, 04:40    Post_subject:  Why writing is hard / Writing vs Computer Programming
Sub_title: Observation for the day (well, yesterday)
 

If we do not struggle with the technical aspects of writing (spelling, grammar), or vocabulary, or putting together sentences well, the main reason it is so difficult to write well/quickly is that we are usually trying to present an number of distinct ideas or trains of thought in a textual form that is inherently linear.

Unless we are writing a tutorial (a set of instructions that are naturally linear because they will be followed one after the other), or perhaps a mathematical proof, we usually want to create a logical argument or progression of ideas to communicate a message that does not naturally take this form. The problem is that our thought, speech and writing are constrained in our linear experience of Time, so it is difficult to communicate multi-dimensional information.

A computer program is different from most written texts. It typically performs a number of jobs in a natural sequence so in this sense its "message" is very linear. Programming languages also have features like loops and functions to deal with choice and the parallel "trains of thought" it creates. Functions can be arranged in any order in the file and it doesn't matter, so in this sense a computer program is non-linear. Unlike a human reader, the computer also does not have a problem if a program interrupts a natural logical sequence ("changing the subject") then comes back to continue it later in the conversation.

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Flash
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Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 11164
Location: Arizona USA

PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug 2009, 09:41    Post_subject:  

As I see it, writing is an attempt to communicate something to another person (notes to yourself don't count.) The hard part of writing for me (other than thinking of the right words) is reading what I wrote as though for the first time, as the other person or people will see it. I often miss ambiguities that are obvious to the first-time reader, because I know what I meant to say.

Writing a computer program seems different in that there is no doubt about how a computer will interpret the commands of the program. However, once you string those commands together to make a program, the consequences are hard to predict. Laughing
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ttuuxxx


Joined: 05 May 2007
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Location: Ontario Canada,Sydney Australia

PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug 2009, 14:45    Post_subject:  

When I was a young boy maybe around 8yrs old My father purchased a C-64, It didn't really have any games made for it yet and wasn't compatible with the vic-20 since it wasn't even in the stores yet, it was a demo model from the USA. Anyways I started reading the large programming book that came with it, and then compute magazine started publishing code in every issue for games, You would have to type pages and pages double columns etc and along the way you learned, because if you typed any errors you had to find them etc, what a pain. But after maybe 6-7 months of doing this I ready for my first real program, I made a pac-man game with sprite graphics around the age of 9, pac-man was my favorite game at the time in the arcade. It was basic, no scores but you could move around a basic maze and it looked the part somewhat. Right around the that time they started teaching Pc class in school, it was mostly basic language and a few games like odel lake. The funny part is that I had a better understanding of basic/machine language than my teacher and I was only 9. lol But then puberty set in and I tossed computers for about 10yrs lol worst mistake, I went mainstream MS, where I should of stuck it out with code. About 4yr or so I started using Linux and back to code again, This time around I'm having learning issues grasping code, which came to me so easy as a child. Really the way schools teach the kids today about computers compared to the late 70's early 80's is far off track, Today's kids are raised with point and click, and no real understanding on whats in the code. That alone makes a gap/void and classes people as "Computer Geeks" where as when I was a kid I was called a "Wiz Kid", and was somewhat praised for it, since everybody else had to learn some basic computer language that I already knew and they, including the teacher would come to me for help. So what I'm try to say is that It can be easy to learn or difficult the second time around, when your younger your brain is like a sponge. When your older your brain is like a hard boiled egg, lol
ttuuxxx

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 6825
Location: Chatham, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug 2009, 17:37    Post_subject:  

disciple

recommended reading; [in 10 parts] A Science of Human Language -

http://www.scientificblogging.com/chatter_box/science_human_language_part_1

btw, my friend Patrick says, 'I agree generally with what you say, a computer can nest almost any number of side-tracks & find it's way back, but the average human finds it difficult to cope with more than about 7 parallel remarks'
- feel free to comment on his blog/theory

Aitch Smile
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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug 2009, 21:36    Post_subject:  

Quote:
the average human finds it difficult to cope with more than about 7 parallel remarks

I thought maybe 2 Smile

Quote:
a theory which explains language as a means by which evolution can encode information of value to the survival of a species so that it may be transmitted between individuals without the use of genes.

I'm sure there's some real science somewhere in those ten parts, but I'm an engineer and we don't take kindly to that sort of gobbledegook Smile

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4-stroke

Joined: 07 Aug 2009
Posts: 114
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug 2009, 18:01    Post_subject:  

I've been trying to learn C and C++ for about ten years, still haven't got it... Confused Some people got what it takes, some just don't.
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