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Show Notes

Constant tweaking and improving: This week on Track Changes we are joined by friend and tech writer Clive Thompson, to talk about his most recent book Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World. We chat about coder culture, its influence on society, and why the search for efficiency can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Paul and Rich also share their worst bug stories.

Transcript

Clive — 4:38: “I realized after 25 years of writing about software that I’d sort of spent a lot of my time saying okay, here’s how x, y or z piece of software, or social network, is kind of warping and deforming and reshaping everyday life, but the average person, you know they could get that, but they had no idea where software came from.” 

Clive — 6:42: “I began to realize the more I talked to them, that these [coders] are people who have an ability to endure a grinding level of frustration that’s like an order of magnitude higher than most normal human beings can handle.” 

Clive — 9:19: I was looking for the stuff that would not just help people understand the people, but understand the decisions they make architecturally and engineering wise that kind of result in the downstream effects that we live with.”  

Clive — 12:47: “Alongside obsessions with efficiency, a lot of developers are super obsessed with scale.” 

Rich — 14:07: “The fact that you’ve injected your opinion, creation, into everybody’s lives in such an intense and profound way is very empowering.” 

Clive — 14:48: “Socially, culturally, economically, we have pretty good ways of recognizing the advantages of efficiency and optimization. We have really no language that’s very good for talking about the occasional advantages of friction and inefficiency.”