Wednesday, August 22, 2007

knowledge labor is a great racket

Recently I had the pleasant experience of adding a tricky new "twist" to some software, but because of some previous design choices, I was able to introduce the twist with rapid, minimal effort. Later, it occurred to me that if someone walked by my desk and noticed a lack of typing, he or she might assume I was slacking off because I was no longer working on the twist! (To satisfy the nosy: I wasn't typing any more because I was reading some Web documentation about some configuration options.)

One good analogy to my situation is an old story I heard once (so I'll probably tell it wrong) about a customer and his auto mechanic. The mechanic looked closely at the customer's engine, fiddled with a few of the parts to check them out, then finally used one of his tools to make a single adjustment. The customer balked at the repair cost...the mechanic had barely done anything! The mechanic remarked that the cost wasn't just for making the adjustment, but for knowing where to make the adjustment.

How much do code monkeys and grease monkeys have in common?

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