Monday, November 28, 2011

comparative advantage, relative wages and marginal product: or I like programming

I got to program today. It always reminds me how much I enjoy it. These days I program once a year or so. I only do it now because I have no RAs to do it for me. To be honest, its much faster doing it myself. I spent 3 years of meetings helping teams of RAs do what I probably could have done in a week or so myself. (training RAs is part of the job)

I know it is immodest to say but I happen to be a very good programmer. Well at least in some dimensions of programming (who knows how well that translates into big corporate projects), I probably am a relatively better programmer than an economist. Part of it is the 10,000 hours of practice thing.  My mom had me programming BASIC when I was 5. I copied code from 3-2-1 contact magazine and library books until I could write it myself. In middle school I wrote computer games for myself because I wasn't allowed to play any I hadn't written.  I took theoretical comptuer science courses when I was 14. In my 4 years at MIT, 2 of my degrees were in CS and received commendations in my CS classes even though it was relatively low priority. I walked into a programming contest for the MIT team that regularly competes at the international level on a lark, and did reasonably well.

So it feels a shame I don't get to do it any more, something I enjoy and something I'm good at. I suppose such is the nature of programming. Even if I had chosen a more CS focused career path, it seems few people actually program for very long.

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