Recently, Dan North wrote an interesting article entitled "Programming is not a craft".
I took issue with the basic premise of the article, as well as most of the particulars. I decided to draft a response and make it available here for posterity:
I suggest picking up a copy of Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order and reading it. The yardstick being used, hazily, here to evaluate whether software is a craft, art, profession or something altogether other should benefit from his insights there.
More importantly, since the Agile Manifesto was drafted there has been a front of bravado put forward by proponents of some New Way™ as they declare themselves bold, daring to step away from the commoditized masses, and driven to do That Which Requires Real Strength and Resolve, (issuing a "call-to-arms," being "feisty, opinionated, brash", etc., yadda yadda, ...).
Can we, as humans, as people with experience, love, pride, awareness of wholeness and life, inspired by the value of creating something beautiful, of refining our work and ourselves, of striving to be better and to make the world around us better ...
... can we truly think of no higher purpose than to prostrate ourselves to some nameless "customer"? Is the only value in what we do, in who we are, distilled from whether we "deliver business value", "demonstrate value to potential employers", give "capabilities" to people who "want them yesterday"?
This is a call to prostitution masquerading as manifesto.
Striving for mastery of art, perfection of craft, betterment of self and the world around us is worth pursuing in and of itself.
There are those of us who build software who recognize this and pursue the craft of software because of this. Software is both art and craft, regardless of whether some manifesto jives with one's tawdry beliefs about business.
Many of us are fortunate enough that the necessities of life, the house, the food, the clothes, the tools can be paid for in the currency of business by honing a craft that we love.
Don't let that obscure the fact that "the customer" is the least cause of growth in craft, the last reason we are compelled to the art, and the first hindrance to be left on the wayside when we gain the opportunity.