Friday, October 24, 2008

thought interruptions are life's choppy video

The other night I was watching the Daily Show through hulu.com in a hotel that had a slow internet connection. About 10 minutes into the episode, the video started getting choppy. I tried ignoring it, but even though the chop occurred only for a split-second, and happened every few seconds, it was distracting to the point where I couldn't watch the show any longer. Everybody knows what that's like. It's the same thing with a slightly scratched DVD. You could theoretically keep watching, but there's something profoundly interrupting to that lack of continuity.

That's the best layman's term analogy I can think of for what it takes to perform a job that requires a deep level of sustained thought. Many have studied and written about this. Some call it flow, some call it getting in the groove. The latest prose in my field is by the gifted Neal Ford.

I make software for a living, which is a field that has a very difficult time quantifying the things that matter about it. Examples at a low level are this:
How do you quantify good code? How do you quantify a good programmer? To this day, it still takes a good programmer to tell them apart - no untrained eye or machine can. The need for uninterrupted thought is another requirement that's easy to overlook and communicate, yet it's absolutely critical to making quality software.

And oh yeah - a faster hotel internet connection. That too. :)

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