In a series of lectures called the Philadelphia Doctorate Course, L. Ron Hubbard says:
All of your work…is motivated by the future, not motivated by the past: you want to eat tomorrow, why, you work today.
That’s from the seventh lecture in the series, on December 2, 1952, for those who are curious. 🙂
So why program? Are we doing it because the boss tells us to? Maybe we’re doing it to eat tomorrow and pay our rent and buy nice things for ourselves. I think a lot of programmers are doing that, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I mean, it sounds a little unpleasant–working so you can live, while spending most of life at work–but it’s not evil or wrong or something like that. But in addition to all that, aren’t there some people who might take a little pride in their work? Maybe there’s something in the future that we’re working toward–a completed product, a happy user, a piece of software that helps people–something.
Well, that means our software must have a future. And we’re creating that future, right now. In fact, you could go so far as to say that everything we do to the software in present time is somehow motivated by the future. It might be the future five minutes from now, or it might be two years from now. It doesn’t matter how far into the future we’re talking about, it’s just clear that it’s the future that motivates the tremendous amount of thought and effort that we put in to our systems.
We write code now so that we have a working system tomorrow. We put effort into the system now so that it can save us effort in the future. We work on our software architecture so that we don’t have to continually fix our software in the future.
It’s very easy to think of a system as “a series of decisions made in the past that led up to what we have now.” But who cares, because our work now isn’t motivated by a desire to affect the past–you can’t affect the past, that’s a pretty fundamental law of this universe. 🙂
You are the programmer, you are the cause of the system right now, and that cause is motivated by the future, one way or another.