A couple of months ago I stumbled upon a tweet from Tom Kenny that caught my attention: he was basically disagreeing on the idea expressed in two blog posts from two awesome guys -Mark Boulton and Harry Roberts- about the misuse of the word “Craft” applied to code and design.
In his post, Mark Boulton opens with a strong “I’m not a Craftsman” immediately followed by the story of his uncle who, as an old man, enjoys to spend his time smoking a pipe and fixing traction engines. Mark makes his point trying to draw a comparison between Craft -a work of love- and Engineering -a work of numbers-, telling how he ain’t got no time for “love” in his work and how usually he’s already gone at the point where people starts adding bells and whistles over a foundation he helped to build.
Along the same -if not harsher- lines goes Harry’s post, who seems almost angry at those who profess themselves as “Crafters”, not without a handful of good points. In his views “Crafters” tend towards self-indulgence, time consumption and uneffectivness, while “Engineers” are efficient and Pragmatic: of course the latter is much more likely to meet clients’ expectations and needs. BUT.
While it’s true I feel I am at least partially matching the “Craftsman” type, I do also see I am no stranger to the “Engineer” one, so what? The answer is actually quite simple: I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.
I was born as a Craftsman. I had my first computer when I was five. My second one when I was six. I started developing very soon thereafter.
If you take a look at the videos where I’m six MONTHS old, there are only two things that make me excited: Computers and Food. Not Joking. That’s a mark and it goes beyond opinions and labels: I have always been attracted by computers, monitors, keyboards and the such.
I am a craftsman by birth and an engineer by education. The first tends towards tinkering, experimenting and trying new things just because they’re so damn cool, while the latter tries to apply predictable and well-known practices to make things done. To me, there’s no one without the other.
Mark and Harry are right, pure “Craftsmen” might not be professional, but pure “Engineers” might not be the best too: life (and therefore work) is not just made of pure numbers. It’s also energy, creativity, patience, empathy, fight and understanding, all of which aren’t very typical of the latter type.
So that’s why I am not ashamed to say: I’m a craftsman AND an engineer, keeping balance in the Force :)