Coders As Priests

Recent Twitter thread.

Coders as priests: once, only those who knew Latin, Greek had access to the Truth, and had to mediate it to everyone else. Non-clergy had no idea if their priest was good/accurate or bad/taking advantage of them.

Three things reduced the power of priests:

-competition: more entering priesthood/competing methods (minor)

-institutional innovation: some daring to translate Truth into common tongues (moderate)

-technology; printing press enabled mass reach of above (major)

Preists and specialized knowledge still matter, but whole game was changed, marked most prominently by 1517 (paging @William_Blake)

Today, coders hold special access to Code that laypeople don’t understand. We trust them to translate ideas/problems/solutions/processes into software. We have no idea if ones we’re working with are good or bad/corrupt.

Coders have immense market power due to high demand and market difficulty knowing their relative skill. (Most misunderstand this power as an indication of their value as persons, or their ideas as a whole, vs. narrow specialization in demand)

Like clergy, they can and do indulge in wacky religious wars over points of dogma, let ego drive their work/tools used/etc., and the laypeople are left to guess who’s right/wrong.

So, what will break open the dam and force coders to be a little more accountable to the market, like clergy had to be to congregants?

Probably similar:

-competition: more people learning to code

-institutional innovation: more transparency/translation from code to non-coders

-technology: some big printing-press caliber breakthrough that makes coders less needed to make software.

None of this is meant as a negative judgment on coders or anyone else. But it seems clear to me their massive market power allows them some indulgences in pretty wild behavior, and that cannot persist forever.

HT to @steveinpursuit for convo leading to some of this. Also of note, the crypto space has an even higher level of specialization, so effects seem even more extreme.

%d bloggers like this: