Understanding the Mind of a Programmer

Consider the following programmer-themed comic (go on, I’ll wait):

Jason Heeris 2013

I think this sums up a lot about how most programmers feel when they are interrupted. When I think about how to explain to a non-developer the cost of interrupting a developer while they are knee-deep in coding, I can come up with the following analogy: Karaoke.

Allow me to paint the picture for you. Imagine you’re out with your friends at a karaoke bar right in the 2nd chorus of Survivors Eye of the Tiger…

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeee

Then your mom walks in and asks if you called your grandmother and wished you a happy birthday. You have to stop what you’re doing and attend to said interruption, even if it’s just acknowledgement. When you finally get to resume your song, the magic is over. Programming is no different.

I myself have had this countless times and the original spark of an idea I’ve had has long since become dim. So it takes me a while to ramp back up and continue where I left off.

After all each interruption, it means that it’ll take that much longer to finish what was started if work has to keep getting restarted.

So I implore all non-developers to give us developers some consideration when you see us working.
Until next time, have a great week everyone!

Do not disturb your programmers!

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