Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Programming in Sock Feet

At the NFJS/Gateway Software Symposium, one speaker gave two fantastic talks: in sock feet.

Love, love, love it. In a way, it embodied the experience: comfortable, yet productive.

It gave rise to these thoughts...

Public Speaking

As a senior in my undergrad, I took a terrific class in public speaking: the iconic Dale Carnegie class. Seriously, it changed my life.

One of the minor tips is to ditch the equipment: the watch, the cellphone, the wallet, etc. The goal is to be comfortable when "on stage" (plus it removes a tendency to fiddle nervously with stuff).

I absolutely ditch my footwear if I can get away with it. Hell, I'd speak in a bathrobe if I could.


I work in the same way: I currently work in a public war-room, unencumbered by any devices. I kick off my shoes all the time (your "code smell" joke has been anticipated: hopefully my grooming practices allow me to do this without offense).

Give it a shot today: stow your stuff. You don't need to be weighed down like Stormtrooper with all that equipment. (No, you don't really need to be constantly available via cell -- you weren't for the 1990s and got away with it.)

Free your body and your mind will follow.


A major theme from NFJS was the notion of Low Ceremony, as coined by Stu Halloway. The gist is that the dynamic languages, and "convention over configuration", remove the formal, baroque practices of the last few years.

For example, why go through the "high formality" of public getters/setters: Groovy gives them to you for free. Do we really need semi-colons as a statement separator? Must we declare the type of a variable all the time? Imagine introducing yourself, shaking hands with your family every morning: needless ceremony.

This is a stretch, but my metaphor for this revolution is "programming in sock feet". Much of Java, XML, and so on feels like formal shoes that don't fit right and are often too fancy for the occasion.

The Upshot

Slip those shoes off. Whether it's public speaking, or programming, there is nothing wrong with sock feet -- especially if it improves your performance.

1 comment:

rhyolight said...

Why not take it several steps further? How about Programming in the NUDE!? Now that's comfy... but I think I'll have to get rid of that faux-leather chair!