Code Speaks

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I was pair programming the other week. I said that the code wants to go this way. Later, I said that the code wants to be refactored in a certain direction. After a few more references to the code voicing its wants, he turned to me and said, "You must have great ears, because I don't hear the code talking." That got me to thinking about this metaphor, "the code speaks".

I wonder if it's just a convenient way to claim that what I want to do is the best thing to do. If I want to refactor the code a certain way, well, that's just my opinion. But if the code wants to be refactored in a certain way, that lends an air of objectivity to the decision. See, it's not my idea, it's the code's idea.

On the other hand, the code really does speak to me. Honest. Even when I take my drugs on time.

What if your computer has no sound card? Can you still hear code speak? Or if code speaks and no-one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

What is the sound of one line compiling?
Modification dates & counts, gathered from the comments below:
991222- code shouts and screams, and whispers, and sometimes stays very quiet
1999/12/21 - I read it; picked up the link from the RecentChanges page. -- JamesStansell

I was counting on that
If you are intent on what you want, you will never hear what the code wants. -- EricBennett, 1999-12-21 (p.s. When was the experiment started?) 1999-12-21
For access-counting, you could always have a counter cgi or similar hit as an inline image, at least for graphical browsers. -- LukeGorrie
I read it too. -- CurtisBartley 21 Dec 1999
22 Dec 1999 -- ChrisBooth
When they say ListenToTheCode, surely they mean CodeSings, not CodeSpeaks? -- RichardDrake

2/2/9 (looking to have a day 30 problem two days earlier than everyone else)

Adding cross references has become reflexive for me. I added a "See Also" from CodeSings to here before I realized what I was doing, then had to go back and remove it.
22 Dec 1999 -- BrettNeumeier. What a lot of RecentChangesJunkies we have here.

Perhaps that's what this experiment is really about - tracking junkies. Here, let me put this radio collar on you.

I'll wear the collar, just don't try to put a tag in my ear. -- FrancisTownsend

No problem. I'll wear the collar proudly as long as I get to have my RecentChanges fix. -- JeffShelby (12/22/99)
The code is just code; it sits there on your hard drive. The computer will interpret it very strictly and uncaringly. It is you, the programmer, who gives the code meaning because you understand it. So, when the CodeSpeaks, it is just you and your internal sense of elegance. However, most concepts of elegance are shared with others.

I was contemplating just saying, Spork! but that wasn't nearly profound enough. ;) -- SunirShah (12/22/99)

Beautiful
I prefer Not the face, not the face! as a battle cry over Spork! myself. -- JasonYip (12/22/99)
looking for spoken programming language references, I searched for speak -- ShaeErisson Jan 12 2000
01/12/2000 - Hi, I'm Jeff, and I'm a RecentChangesJunkie!!!! (And topics that get pushed to the bottom of RecentChanges are getting "discussion," and hence should attract readers.)
Saw it on RecentChanges -- DinoMorelli (2000-Jan-12)

SNAP! -- DaveWhipp, 2000-01-12

My name is SethGordon, and I'm a ... no, I can't say it, it's too embarrassing. (January 12, 19100)

The demand for radio tracking collars exceeds my supply
Jan 17, 2000 I was following ReverseLinks? from BrettNeumeier ... you see, he managed to alter his radio tracking collar so I haven't been able too keep tabs on his posts just by looking at RecentChanges. But he can only run, not hide ... I am enough of a RecentChangesJunkie that I will soon determine which DotCom points us to him!

As for the code speaking, well ... I keep a fresh supply of cotton in my ears at all times to prevent any pesky insights like that. I also keep my eyes closed in the event that I might obtain a clue via lip-sync!

-- EricHerman

Mar 14, 2000 of course we now have new radio tracking collars: UserName :-) -- eh beep beep beep beep beep beep beep...
PhilGoodwin Mar 14, 2000
RecentChanges, 14 March 2000. Someone was cleaning up some tests, and I noticed he had also edited this page. I was curious, so I checked it out. (You know, I was going to clean them up anyway.)
MatthewWilbert Mar 14, 2000, from RecentChanges
March 14, 2000. Got here from http://c2.com/cgi/topten?do=counts&do=wiki found in HowManyPeopleUseWiki. On that day, at 10PM EST, it was third in the list, with 24 hits.

Regarding the subject, I agree somewhat with Sunir, that it is you speaking, not the code, but I think it has more to do with past experience than elegance. The more experience you have, the more likely (any) code will speak to you. -- AnonymousDonor
Saw it in RecentChanges, checked it out - March 14, 2000 -- RobertField
April 4, 2000 from RecentChanges -- BenSchroeder
4-04-2000 From QuickChanges, looking for something not Wysiwig... -- LarryPrice
Pardon my formatting, I'm using the latest MozillaBeta?, and it misbehaves in subtle and annoying ways.

April 10th, 2000. -- BlakeWinton
From RecentChanges, 20000412
Hmm. "Six statements in search of an author?". Searched for "Objectivity" (looking for the OODBMS of that name) on 20000412, found this instead. Should I be worried if I hear my code snickering? -- PeterShirley, taking the WikiWikiPlunge
Found it on 2000/07/20, searching for "e-speak". As TomDeMarco says, 'if you are having the same argument over and over again, someone feels like someone isn't listening." When I find myself thrashing it is usually because I am not listening to my code. Usually it listens to me OK, except for VisualBasic sometimes... -- KayJohansen
[4:45am UTC 18 September 2000] I felt like touching this page again.

I had an idea. Code speaks the mind of its author like any work that can be imbued with style. However, this depends on the environment in which you work. On one hand, you have Perl which emphasizes writability and Unix humour (carp?). On the other hand, you have the sterile environment of Java, which is like reading a VCR manual.

I get that too many cooks spoil the stew, so Java replaces the art of cookery with microwave TV dinners. But, gee, it's no fun. The best code speaks of the best minds. And whatever happened to the exuberance that LiterateProgramming folk had of young programmers reading code listings like novels?

Perl is fun. -- SunirShah

I almost agree that "Code speaks the mind of its author like any work that can be imbued with style." I don't think that it's the code speaking, though, I think it's the intended design (or a pattern?) that is being subconsciously noticed.

As far as the analogies go, I'd say Perl is more like a good MontePython? sketch, whereas Java is more like a bland old male U.S. TV anchor. Unfortunately, most of the people I work with wouldn't get a Python sketch to save their souls. -- KaelLizak


[18 September 2000] See: LanguageOrientedProgramming -- HelmutLeitner
19 Sept 2000 Pete Hardie...Use the Source, Luke comes to mind when you start listening to the code. Rather like the authors who claim their characters tell them what should happen next.

blast....it was the 18th... -- Pete Hardie
Sept 18 (Pete, you must live oceans away...) May I mention the obvious, namely that this page *isn't* a good test of how often orphan pages get read, as long as we your RecentChangesJunkie readers follow your instructions to edit the page when we get here. -- AnonymousCoward

I count on your limited stack depth to prevent unlimited recursion
9/18/2000 Todd Breiholz
10/30/2000 HelmutLeitner
10/30/2000 DanHankins
30 Oct 2000 PaulTevis
2000-10-30 KatyMulvey (a QuickChanges junkie this time. Will try to divert by calling this a minor edit...)
1-Nov-2000 MrInvisible?
Nov 1 2000 RecentChangesJunkie
Nov 1 2000 LaurentBossavit, QuickChangesJunkie; making this a MinorEdit. (QuickChanges is Wiki's own SlashDot !)
Nov 1 2000 WilliamIrwin?
2001-July-16 EricScheid, searching for some word
I got here from ListenToTheCode. I think that when the CodeSpeaks, the voice is in my head telling me whether what I see (the code) matches who I am (does the code present an acceptable expression of my authorship). Therefore, the CodeSpeaks only to those who have a well-established mental image of their authorship and its proper expression. For those people who are apathetic about their authorship and its expression, the code never speaks.

By the way, I very quickly acquired an addiction as a RecentChangesJunkie, though I am still learning the best means of injection.

-- RobWilliams (14-Aug-2001)
Recent changes junkie; sucked into the CodeSpeaks trap. 2001-08-14.

Caught me. -- SteveHowell (14-Aug-2001)


Recent changes, 14 Aug 2001

Recent Changes 25 Aug 2001
9/9/01 Found this page with a search for "carp" in a WebBrain? vs Wiki test. Wiki won hands down! -- BobWebster


07/28/02 Wow... it's been a while since anyone's been here. :) -- WilliamUnderwood

29/07/02 (but still the 28th in the US) - got RecentChanges :P -- GavinLambert


2002-07-29: This page keeps getting onto RecentChanges because everyone keeps saying when they found it, maybe if it stayed dead for a while it would disappear. -- PerryLorier

Not necessarily - I found it once from RandomPages, and once through the WikiList -- 2002/07/29

Maybe it should say that when you augment the count, you should mark the change as a MinorEdit (as I'm going to do) to keep it out of RecentChanges. On the other hand, maybe the point of the experiment is to make it findable purely through Recent Changes. Maybe another interesting experiment would be to make a page like this that is always minor-edited, so the RecentChangesJunkies never see it (although the RecentEditsJunkies would - man, are those guys crazy).

Hmm. Maybe ... just maybe ... such a page already exists; how would we know if it did? There would be no inward links, and it would never show up on RecentChanges or QuickChanges. Maybe there's already an entire set of stealth pages, unreachable from the everyday wiki, cloaked as MinorEdits. There could be an entire subculture of wiki, composed of RecentEditsJunkies reading and writing stealthed pages! Hmm; if they only see MinorEdited pages, it's possible that they aren't aware of the light side (ie our side) of the wiki at all. Two separate cultures sharing one space, a LightSide? and a DarkSide.

Our course of action is obvious: we must strike first.

Of course, since I'm submitting this as a MinorEdit, they'll see this. Well, too bad. People of the DarkSide MinorEdits-based wiki culture: prepare to be annihilated!'

-- TomAnderson, 2002-7-29


Another QuickChanges junkie. Sorry. -- MarkSchumann, 2002-07-29


I've cut my coffee intake down, and that seems to be helping. Sorry. -- TomAnderson, 2002-07-30


Got it through Sunir's RandomPage, just to be different, since I have a 'random page from WardsWiki' button on my browser toolbar. =) -- TorneWuff, 2002-08-16


I have no idea, therefore I am. "You can call me smimmy if you want." - Jimmy James


Punctuation corrections. -- 2002-12-09


Got here through Random page 2003-02-12


Discovered via RecentChanges -- BrentNewhall, Feb. 11, 2003
BackLink from RecentChangesJunkies, doing the WikiGnome appeal there, Mar. 2, 2003.


Random page on June 26, 2003
via RecentChanges -- RichardJensen, June 26, 2003 -- also CameronSmith and JonathanTang. And also KarlKnechtel. Also fixed up some formatting in the list.
My CodeBegsForMercy?. But I do not pamper to its crybaby tactics.
via QuickChanges, 2003-06-27.
Won't this just keep getting put in RecentChanges, causing more people to hit it? 27/6/2003
Yes. Via QuickChanges, 2003-06-27 (Warning: infinite loop a-comin'!)
Yes. Via QuickChanges, 2003-08-26 (Warning: infinite loop here!)
DougKing, RecentChangesJunkie, 2003-08-26 (Still looping!)
pop! not what I was looking for, argghhh. nov10/2003 Searched Google... Looking for a clue how to get UTC time (as in 'time' function in C/C++) from within VB6. 09/09/2003
Been here... but I'm here again nov28/03
mar17/04 from JonathanTang
Again and again via QuickChanges
I've been googling for Robert 'Frog' Field. I wonder if the Robert Field here is the one. May 31, 2004 -- AntonGavrilov
20040624 Got here via search for "sound".
20041124 RandomPages
20041124 QuickChanges. Longtime QuickChangesJunkie that I am, I'm shocked that this is the first time I've encountered this page!
20050103 RandomPages
20050103 RecentChanges
20050104 Some people's code speaks. Most code jibbers. (RecentChanges) -- PeterLynch
200501031942 Got here via Recent Changes -- DonaldNoyes
20050113 0652 RecentChanges -- WesselMoolman?
20050113 0210EST RecentChanges -- JimmyCerra
20050115 1409 UTC RecentChanges -- KevinKenny?
20050507 Looking for links to MinorEdits - not the first time I've been here, but the first time I've signed. -- EarleMartin
20050509 Inspecting Earle's edit via QuickChanges.
20050512 Looking for CodeSmells, found it deleted near a change to this. -- ChrisGarrod
20050512 Obsessed with RecentChanges; found this. Must hit RecentChanges AGAIN and AGAIN. Kill me. Please. Kill me. -- DaveVoorhis
20050805 BackLink from RandomPage
20050805 curiosity from QuickChanges
20060110 back again. Found it while reviewing my signed contributions...
20060321 Looked for a random page. Much pleased with the level of entropy found.
20060627 Spelling correction
20060630 RecentChanges -- Martin Shobe and me too -- JohnFletcher
20060701 RecentChanges -- SimonHeath
20060930 BackLink from RandomPages -- AnonymousDonor
20080627 found via RandomPages

20080627 via RecentChanges --SamuelFalvo?
20080701 found via RandomPages
20081010 found by just clicking around.
20090701 found via RandomPages -- JeffreyHantin
20090701 found via RecentChangs? RSS feed -- jdougan
20091102 found via RandomPages -- gvx
Experiments don't die, do they? Found via RandomPages Feb. 22, 2012
I've always wanted to hit an orphan... via RandomPages 18 March 2012 --jdl
20120626 via RandomPages, the experiment must go on -- J├╝rgenBickert
20120626 via RecentChanges -- JohnFletcher (I also found it in 2006 I see. I had forgotten. It must be something to do with the time of year.)
20120824 via How Many People Use Wiki

CategoryWiki (20060321)

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