Developers and superpowers 🦸

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Developers have superpowers

"Technically, computer developers are witches," says Bakunin

Standing on the shoulders of giants, oh yeah!

If you are reading this, you have access to an incredible device*. A physical object, certainly, but which magic mostly resides in an intangible wealth: the Code. What animates screens, machines and serves you. To connect to a site, access quite trivial data, the number of software bricks, and people who have worked on it is... I don't know at all but give a figure.…


It's more.

Because in computer science as well, we walk on the shoulders of giants. Everyone brings their stone to the building to do something new, so that with very little means and knowledge anyone can use the giant, climb on his shoulders and tell him: "Let's go Kevin!"

And there are little bits of developers everywhere in the world

When my guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to remain of me after my death. After saying "the least amount of garbage as possible", I thought that there were already plenty of little bits of me in codes that runs on objects and servers.

And as I'm not filled with over-ambitions, I think that's already pretty good! It's like putting a small stone on the wall of human glory. Isn't that something worth being proud of? Maybe not as much as those who make food or who educate kids and take care of us but still! And anyway it can make their job easier.

That's the beauty of IT and especially of open source software: international cooperation at the service of any average loser. Of course, the history of commits and the identity of authors is not necessarily accessible. In the same way that we don't know all the little hands that win wars and make revolutions. We don't do it for the glory, but for the cause! No, I'm kidding, we do it because it's fun and it can make money. Nevertheless, we change the landscape, in small steps, like a farmer planting a tree.

While devs (and digital workers in general) today are considered as antisocial morons (I admit, especially by people for whom it's very unlikely to read this article), it's the little hands that make the world a bit more interesting. And there are little bits of us scattered all over the world mixed with the drops of blood from the extraction of rare earths, in all electronic devices, behind the web. Don't thank us, for us it's nothing at all. We've built a parallel world, a 5th dimension that gives us superpowers like allowing us to interact simultaneously in several places in the world.

In a few times, after a well-deserved collapse because we will would have elected Nadine Morano, a computer will be found, a phone with a software, a server, a web client. Some nerd will make Wikipedia work and will be considered as a great wizard. And the the power of magic of ancient humans and the greatness of their civilization will be praised. Like in most heroic fantasy novels. "A very ancient and powerful magical artifact", but how it works, who made it and why will be forgotten.

A thought for the workers who make equipment in science fiction works

I'd like to ask fiction writers and authors to pay a little more attention to the working conditions of the people who make your script writing facilities possible. Because I don't think you could make your own Palendir or Sorting Hat or even an icewall (it's a firewall but in Game of Thrones).

You are impressed by the virtue of fantasy heroes without knowing anything about the time it takes to make a sword that glows when orcs are nearby? And that is reliable! It's like having never seen a car before and concluding "Wow, this guy is very fast!"

But the good thing is that the existence of the internet makes magical artifacts and science fiction inventions much more credible. And that's a good thing because we can now imagine that if magic is based on little bricks of magic that many people have been able to develop step by step. For example, in that perspective, a spell could be based on several combined spells. There would be as many types of magic as there are types of technology. And in the same way that we never talk about small people in fantasy like a soldier serving an exercise he didn't choose, the peasants who produce the food for the characters whose story we follow, there are also the geeks who build the magic they use and make us love these stories.

So okay, it's okay not to be considered epic heroes on laser horses, but couldn't we say we are anonymous little witches working to build fantasy worlds?

* Don't tell me you printed that?