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Checks and balances

Next in the thrilling installments of ‘Rants By a Prematurely Aporetic Programmer’ is an indictment of the great power given to the average intrepid code monkey.

I love to understand technology at a number of different levels – I think its great to be aware of how software works from the humble digital signal to the deployment process of a cloud hosted web app. But I don’t think any one man is an island and capable of managing several different contexts of a piece of software at once. So why then will you likely find cases of the intrepid code monkey fiddling with server configurations, munging data and delving into SQL databases?

Necessity it seems.

The same reason you will find many developers brew their own beer, wiring their own electrics or maintaining the vehicle they drive. Because a lot of the time no other bugger seems capable of getting the job done right. Of course this is an unjust criticism of the ‘other buggers’ around. Its not so much that no-one can or will help, but that the convenience of said code monkey taking on these challenges seems to be the best option in absence of any system, process or team dedicated the particular job at hand.

A recurring theme across so many organisations is that of our code monkey is being given so much power they actually have a sense of abject horror at how much they can fuck things up. None of us want to shoulder such a burden alone.

Fortunately in great teams, like-minded individuals share the responsibility together, and more often than not the end result is successful.

But it shouldn’t be this way. As with so many things it is easy to criticise, but harder to be constructively critical. All I can offer as a solution is that this power should be locked down and the boundaries of responsibility more clearly defined. Common sense must apply to avoid needless bureaucracy. But some checks and balances should be put in place.

By enforcing more of this kind of mindset, slowly things will (and to some extend are) changing. We don’t want to be given access to stuff we have no right to muck about with any more… and if you meet a programmer that does, I think you ought to be seriously suspicious.

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