I’ll be giving a keynote at ACCU 2013 on this topic: “Cheating Decline: Acting now to let you program well for a really long time”.
(Any resemblance to my own looming decrepitude is entirely non-coincidental.)
My premise is, roughly, this:
We know that age causes cognitive decline. There’s some evidence that it begins well before a typical person’s working life is over.
Programming, like mathematics, seems to be a field where that cognitive decline hits hard and relatively early. (There are all sorts of caveats around that statement, but let’s leave them for the talk.) Old programmers are thought not able to keep up with young programmers, to be wedded to old solutions to new problems, to be [fill in your stereotype here].
Nevertheless, some old programmers notably defy this trend. Some are superstars who (unexpectedly) didn’t burn out young. Some weren’t superstars, just good, solid, eminently employable programmers when they were young, who (unexpectedly) turned out to still be good, solid, eminently employable programmers today (once they get past the prejudice).
What’s special about those who smash the stereotype vs. those who reinforce it?
To answer the last question, I want to reach out to self-identified young programmers. If you believe you know someone who’s a stereotype smasher, I’d like to:
… interview you about what’s special about that older programmer (with attention focused on behaviors and habits rather than innate qualities).
… interview the older programmer and invite him or her to talk about the same topic.
If you are willing to participate, mail me.