Loss of Legacy Programmers Means Loss of Systems Understanding

At Livermore, a legendary senior weapons designer is about to retire. At the Spring 2005 MIT workshop, his colleagues discuss this retirement and refer to it as “a blow.” They are anxious about more than the loss of one man’s ability to make individual scientific contributions. He has irreplaceable knowledge about the programming that supports current practice.10 His colleagues fret: “He has such a great memory that he hasn’t written down lots of important stuff. How will people know it?”

The response to this scientist’s imminent retirement is a movement to videotape him and all the other scientists who are about to leave service. This will be no ordinary oral history. It is infused with anxiety. Those who know only the top layer of programs feel powerful because they can do amazing things. But they are dependent on those who can go deeper. So those who feel most powerful also feel most vulnerable.

Notes:

The newer users only know the interface, the abstraction, they don't know the code beneath it.

Folksonomies: abstraction simulation

 Simulation and Its Discontents
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Turkle, Sherry (2009), Simulation and Its Discontents, MIT Press, Retrieved on 2021-03-02
Folksonomies: computer science