Programming as Literacy

In what’s typically called ‘the western world’, before literacy became essentially ubiquitous it was limited to a select few. Monks originally, then scribes. These individuals possessed a truly remarkable skill. They could make marks on paper that could remember things. They could capture information and retrieve it later. Associated with this skill was the ability to make marks that could perform complex computations and produce an answer. People with these skills were hired by nobles and merchants to increase business value.

You know what I’m going to say next of course.

Programming appears to have many parallels with literacy in medieval times. It is a somewhat arcane skill known to a select few, who typically put that skill to use for others in return for remuneration. There are very few scribes left nowadays, although I’m sure at the time they felt that as there would always be a need to write things down, that there would always be scribes.

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