Articles about software developers having "Aha!" moments?
July 15, 2021 3:02 PM   Subscribe

In 2014 I read an article about a software dev who posited that devs don't simply solve problems, rather, they have insights and breakthroughs. They recommended reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which they said helped them with software development (maybe graphic design?).

I read this article, then spent two years taking art classes. I would love to find it again.

I might be confusing two separate articles, because I can't find this article anywhere. In which case I would love to have a great new article about software development coming from insights rather than simply logical thinking (if it exists). With citations, natch.

Thanks in advance.
posted by blahtsk to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Probably not the article you remember, but this might be pertinent: The Psychedelic Inspiration For Hypercard
posted by JonJacky at 10:08 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]

There's an unimportant division among maths students and practitioners whether novel maths is manufactured with intent or that patterns are discovered and applied. My lens is that any kind of working logically and all sequencing of tasks in workflows is discovered and that observed/studied patterns are applied to novel contexts.

The left brain/right brain stuff leaves me cold -- I've got a working corpus collosum linking the two -- and has the smell of outdated ideas like phrenology or manliness being more logical than womanliness. But! If it's a metaphor that helps you, have at it with the warning that all metaphors are wrong, although some are helpful.
posted by k3ninho at 1:19 AM on July 16

I can certainly imagine aha moments of the "if we have the data to do this, then we have the data to do that" type. Also, there is the experience of finding that, instead of results being scattered over a wide range, they are clustered in a small number of distinct cases.

I also have had moments of surprise finding that a computation that I thought would be complicated turned out to be quite simple.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:16 AM on July 16

Not actually articles, and these are anecdotal so there are not likely to be many citations either, so this is adjacent at best to your request.

The books "Developers and Work" and "Coders at Work" (I don't know if they're formally part of the same series but there are more with that naming convention as well that may be of interest) contain long-form interviews with individual software developers, many of which include those moments.

Some entries in the series Boss Fight Books (especially Derek Yu's "Spelunky") will touch on how developers did their work and insights along the way as well.
posted by cCranium at 6:49 AM on July 18

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