Diana Kimball on “What Scares Us About Programming?”

A few months old, but still interesting: entrepreneur and digital culture promoter Diana Kimball responds to a hacker brainstorming session.

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Alex Payne recently posted a picture of this whiteboard from Hacker School, and it rings wildly true to me.

I was interested and encouraged to see that the question “What scares us the most about programming?” elicited more than one answer to the effect of: “asking for help.” In my experience, it’s not so much that the act of asking is so scary, though there’s some of that. It’s more that figuring out how to give enough context that you’re not asking the recipient to be a mind reader but not so much that you’re asking them to do the work for you can be almost as hard as solving the problem in the first place. In fact, many times it leads to the solution without you ever having to go through with the asking, which is kind of cool but also demonstrates just how much brow-furrowing must go into the initial question. There’s also a related problem, called out on the whiteboard specifically: “balance between doing it yourself and asking for help.” I’ll never know how many breakthroughs I’ve short-circuited by asking for help too quickly, but I do know that it’s precisely the four-hour blocks of pure frustration that eventually (after much Googling, staring, and getting up to pace around) dissolve into epiphanies. —Diana Kimball – Code Log 10.25.2012.