Are there 10x programmers?

→ An answer I wrote to this question on Quora.

Software Engineering: What is the truth of 10x programmers?
Do they really exist?…

Let’s answer the other way round: I once had to take heavy anti-histamines for three weeks. My mind was horribly hazy from that, and I felt awake only about two hours per day. However I spent every day working on a matrix multiplication problem.

It was three weeks of failure, because I just could not grasp the problem. I was unable to hold it in my mind.

Then I could finally drop the anti-histamine.

On the first day I solved the problem on my way to buy groceries. On the second day I planned the implementation while walking for two hours . On the third day I finished the program.

This taught me to accept it when people don’t manage to understand things I understand: I know that the brain can actually have different paces and complexity which feels easy to me might feel infeasible for others. It sure did feel that way to me while I took the anti-histamines.

It also taught me to be humble: There might be people to whom my current state of mind feels like taking anti-histamines felt to me. I won’t be able to even grasp the patterns they see, because they can use another level of complexity.

To get a grasp of the impact, I ask myself a question: How would an alien solve problems who can easily keep 100 things in its mind — instead of the 7 which is the rough limit for humans?

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