The challenge over on Weekly Prompts this week is to write about art.
I had it drummed into me from an early age that I was not artistic.
I suppose it was driven by the obvious manifestation of art, drawing. I was, and am, hopeless. But even when I went to university… my friends studied “art” subjects such as English, where I stuck with a boring old science.
It went on into my professional life. I got into computers. If this then that. There’s not really much room for art there, although I understood at the time that I was creating things – I was being creative. I just never called them works of art.
As I got more and more into designing systems, however, I realised that there are good ways to design systems, and bad ways. I happened to come up with good, elegant, understandable ways. That’s not just me being a bighead, other people thought so, too, and paid me good money to do so.
The trick was building firewalls. Often, a system would bring half-a-dozen or a dozen things together. And just as often, one or two of these things would behave quite nastily. The trick was to isolate the nasty bit with a firewall, so that the rest of the parts could talk nicely together.
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But a lot of people couldn’t do that. I can. And so I came to realise that not only was I creating things, but there was an art to it. Because, surely that’s what art is? Something that one person can do well, but another can’t?
It’s funny, because once I was happy to accept that definition of art, I realised that there had been art throughout my whole career. There are good ways to write a computer program, and bad. The good way, primarily, is making things obvious. So someone else can come along and understand what you did. That’s more important, even, than writing something that works! Even if what you did doesn’t work properly, if someone can understand it, they can fix it. Otherwise, they have to start from scratch. So, you see, there is an art to that, too.