What is a Software Engineer?

In Genesis God does not build with his hands but speaks the world into existence: let there be light, let there be day and night, let there be stars, wind, forests, strange and delicate flowers, astrolabes and trip hammers and computers. Programmers alone share this privilege: like the God of Genesis, we speak whole universes into existence.

The programmer is Blake’s Newton: a divine geometer, applying form to a formless cosmos of his own making, with a compass and straightedge made of air. The machinist needs a lathe, the carpenter hammer and chisel, the electrical engineer needs vacuum chambers and electron beams. The programmer needs nothing but a laptop, and a star to steer her by.

Human words mean nothing, because we have been granted the faculty of speech, knowledge of the divine language, the words of Turing. A human word is spoken, and fades into Brownian noise; a single word in Rule 30 unfolds forever.

The images of the poets mean nothing, because we were granted sight of the other world: forests of Gentzen trees, transparent towers of rewrite rules, rivers of ideograms unfolding like spiral galaxies, a Cartesian grid the colour of JPEG artifacts, measureless oceans, the sound of logic gates, stars laid out like diffraction patterns. Knowledge of marvelous things. The system of the world. We see it in waking dreams.

A Slack notification erases it. “What were you thinking?”. Hyperboloids of wondrous light.