The I'm Great quote

A new semester at the uni and so far it looks promising; I got a hold of some new books even though the bookstore had a snakelike queue similar to the Jörmungandr (the snake that encircled the earth in nordic mythology) and our new programming course started. This time it’s Ada’s turn and as always it should be interesting. At a first glance it doesn’t look like it’s introducing anything completely new from what I’m used with. I guess it looks like a cross between C and Haskell’s type system spiced up with some other stuff.

It’s funny how I notice all these little, syntactic similarities (haven’t done anything real with the language yet so I’m a bit shallow now but whatever) from different languages. It was a long time ago I came across a language that distinguish between functions and subroutines. I think that was the case with Visual Basic, my oh so dear first language a few years ago. Might’ve been five years ago?

Anyway quite enough of that, I don’t want to derail too much. What I really wanted to write about is when our new teacher, who by the way is completely awesome, asked us who thought they were a great programmer. Most of us laughed it off but I think there were two, maybe three, who raised their hands.

I thought about raising my hand, but who do I think are great programmers? Knuth, Thorvalds, Djikstra, Stroustrup Silverman and Carmack comes to mind. They’re probably not the greatest, but they’ve done some really notable things. Do I think I’m at their level? What a laugable question, I’m miles away. And I’m sure there’s some epic bearded fellow somewhere out there who’s even higher on the programming skill ladder.

Now what is a great programmer then? I have no idea. But I do know that with all the things I don’t know, I couldn’t be one. Sure I’ve done something in about 10 different (some not so different) languages. But there are hundreds more. I’ve done nothing low level, I have no experience with op codes or assembly and I’m not up to date with the latest scripting languages. There are a few new interesting languages like Rust, CoffeeScript or Go which I haven’t even looked at yet. Of course the number of languages you know doesn’t make you great, but it just feels like I’m missing stuff.

Sure these guys could be great - who am I to say otherwise? But you’ll have to wait a long time for me to spill the I’m great quote. Hell, maybe even a lifetime?