By: Sophia Loukaides
In Japanese culture, there’s a philosophy called kintsukuroi or kintsugi. Although related to the art of repairing broken pottery with gold, kintsukuroi is a concept that not only embraces, but highlights the beauty in the broken. It’s similar to the Japanese esthetic wabi sabi–embracing the flaws or imperfections, but different in the sense that it illuminates them and brings new life to it in the unique way it is fixed. In our culture, people tend to do everything to disguise or shun the broken. You may be asking yourself: ‘How does this ideal relate to programming?’ Programming is the art of embracing the broken.
Altruistically and practically, programming is essentially about fixing the broken parts of a program or something else and making them work, making them better. Many times, and most efficiently, this occurs whilst helping each other, in a socially interactive learning community and data environment.
As the Learn.co introductory lesson explained, [we] programmers:
…break things, we define the error with a test, we fix the code, we pass the test, we repeat.
the intro goes on to further reinforce this through methodology:
Programming is never about getting it all right at once. Programming is like solving a puzzle, you don’t try to put it together immediately, you approach it one piece at a time. The workflow we’re describing optimizes this process, trial and error, attempts and feedback, insight through failure. Most of our time as programmers is spent staring at error messages and code wondering, “Hmm”.
Programmers rewrite simultaneously on what they call ‘control systems‘, like for example, Github. The ‘git’ part is where thousands of code and files are stored (and with Linux and jquery of which, power the entire internet). It’s our virtual history and we revise this history in the ‘hub’ parts where we collaborate with a community via copied “versions” or “branches” that we work out on our own first, and send out into the world after we “commits”, or merge and combine it with thousands of other offline codes and files on the hub. This process called, “version control” and it allows programmers to go extract the version and individually seek the solutions and not get in the way of others as they are doing the same. It’s a kind of built-in checks and balance system.
A femme view on the importance of this kind of inward to outward revision reminds me of the profound words of author and visionary, Adrienne Rich. In her essay, When We Dead Awaken–Writing as Re-Revision, Rich explains the importance of re-vision in an imbalanced world:
“Re-vision-the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction-is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for woman, is more than a search for identity: it is part of her refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society.”
For Rich and programmers alike, the act of re-vision is an act of survival. The moment you stop revising, receiving error messages and reading into them and rewriting the code, is the moment you stop being a programmer.
For womyn, the moment you stop asking what failures can teach you about the imbalance in the world, you stop being able to independently survive, you give up… you settle for lower paying jobs, believe your self-value is in your marriage prospect, that your broken pieces are something to be ashamed of, that you can only be a programmer if you are male. Only 10% of women are programmers and yet it’s one of the highest paying careers out there. It’s impossible to believe that this percentage is associated with our assumption of the intellectual capacity of the woman.
Embracing the Broken and Re-vision through Education
For many of us who are no longer interested in merely surviving programming is a road that should be considered. ‘Survival mode’ is a state of mind which allows individuals to believe humans suffer alone, rather than collectively. For me, programming education comes from a place of wanting to thrive. Luckily the innovation/thriving philosophy is built into programming’s core. Thanks to applying for the #KodewithKlossy career scholarship, I was encouraged to sign up to GitHub and Learn IDE an integrated learning platform and Learn-Verified program via The Flatiron School. I had no idea what Learn and GitHub were but learnt along the way. The function of these programs is laid out below:
The LearnID and GitHub integration makes Learn unlike any other educational platform, allowing you to learn in the same workflow you will one day use as a professional programmer. If you use professional tools and learn in a real environment, you will master the entire craft of code.
Before I knew it, I am practicing IRL in a virtual learning environment. That scary black screen with letters and numbers? Touched it… influenced it! After finishing the introductory lesson plans, I have realized it is that it’s a beautiful and huge new world. It encourages you to be your greatest self through challenge, perseverance and community. I expected to feel small and stupid, just the way school used to make me feel. However, the language, not only in the lesson plans, but in the code itself, was empowering, encouraging, and compassionate.
A Shared Respect for the Broken
Part of the reason for this is because the developers and programming teachers are that way themselves. Through the Learn program I’ll be learning how to use Ruby a software program developed by Yukirihuro Matsumoto. The idea behind creating Ruby, for ‘Matz’, as programmers call him, was inspired by his philosophy of creating happiness in the “hmm” of programming language. His goal, when developing it in the mid-1990s was to create a program that was ‘simple to use and elegant to write’ and capable of building vastly complex things. It’s ‘object orientated’ or created as general purpose programming language. Most importantly it was based on the principal “madz is nice, so are we”–or MINASWAN, as it’s known in the Ruby community.
The idea is: We love programming, programming is challenging, programming challenges you to fix the broken, and with respect of one another and our shared love, we support each other in creating beautiful things from the brokenness. More women need to be part of this community for it to really be meaningful.
** This was written in summer of 2016.
#Programa.ma provides insight into the world of programming, technology and gen z as well as a personal journal into the world of mid-life education from the perspective of a single mother #programama #femmefuturism #kintsugi #kintsukuroi #programming #coding #gold #github #learnhub #wabisabi #broken #artofembracingthebroken #adriennerich @thehorseandcrow @s.loukaides