Programming Style and Your Brain

Channel: USENIX

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Douglas Crockford, PayPal

Computer programs are the most complicated things humans make. They must be perfect, which is hard for us because we are not perfect. Programming is thought to be a "head" activity, but there is a lot of "gut" involved. Indeed, it may be the gut that gives us the insight necessary for solving hard problems. But gut messes us up when it come to matters of style.The systems in our brains that make us vulnerable to advertising and propaganda also influence our programming styles. This talk looks systematically at the development of a programming style that specifically improves the reliability of programs. The examples are given in JavaScript, a language with an uncommonly large number of bad parts, but the principles are applicable to all languages.

Douglas Crockford was born in the wilds of Minnesota, but left when he was only six months old because it was just too damn cold. He turned his back on a promising career in television when he discovered computers. He has worked in learning systems, small business systems, office automation, games, interactive music, multimedia, location-based entertainment, social systems, and programming languages. He is the inventor of Tilton, the ugliest programming language that was not specifically designed to be an ugly programming language. He is best known for having discovered that there are good parts in JavaScript. This was an important and unexpected discovery. He also discovered the JSON Data Interchange Format, the world's best loved data format.