How does language affect the brain?
Language builds connections across the brain, allowing us to reason and make sense of the world around us.
If language changes what our brain is capable of thinking, how might learning to program change how we think?
Programming helps us think by breaking down everyday interactions in to small bits and tiny steps. By reducing the world around us to its most basic and elementary form, we have a deeper understanding of how the world around us is built.
Have you noticed how you think changing? If you have, is it for better or worse?
I’ve always had a very logical and formulaic mindset. Programming has not changed the way I think of the world around me. However, programming has improved my problem solving abilities. Rather than view an obstacle as a huge and hopelessly conquerable task, I am able to break it down into little pieces and solve every bit one at a time. Whenever I get stuck on a life issue, I am able to tackle it in an orderly and effective means.
How might programming language choice change how you think? Could it affect what problems you can solve and how you approach solving problems?
I was around 15 when I started to mess around with assembly language, and I feel it greatly altered the way I think. Such a long time has passed since and I’ve felt as though I’ve thought the same way since I was born; hence why I answered that programming has not changed the way I think in the previous question. I retract that statement to state that ASM has indeed changed the way I think. The concepts I’ve learned from doing things step by step in the most basic of forms at a young age has bled into the way I program almost 10 years later. Learning Ruby was much less logic intensive. It allows me to focus on a higher level of thought while C/C++/ASM (my first languages) forced me to really pay attention to what is actually happening on my machine. With Ruby things just “work” whereas in C/C++ I would have to broaden my attention to other things such as memory allocation. In a sense, Ruby allows me to think about the ask at hand, while C++ makes me worry about the intricacies of the code I’m writing.
Could your editor affect your ability to think/program?
My text editor/IDE is my work space. Similar to my desk, I need to either know where everything is or be able to intuitively find what I need. At the moment, all of my coding is done in my text editor. The colour scheme, the syntax highlighting, the auto-save feature, etc… are all vital to my ability to program. It allows me to focus on the task at hand and assists me in identifying errors. There’s upsides and downsides to different text editors that appeal to different developers. For example, VIM allows some people to program faster and more efficiently. IDEs are also available to assist people, although an over-reliance on an IDE may do more harm than good.
How might the medium in which you program affect your programs and thoughts?
The medium in which you program contains all of your tools. Efficient tools combined with the knowledge to use said tools results in more productivity, less bugs, and a better work flow. I am completely used to my work environment and anything I want to happen will happen without much thought or effort. I am able to focus entirely on my program instead of figuring out how to work something out in my environment. When pair programming, my thoughts aren’t as streamlined because I’m too busy figuring out which way their touchpad scrolls, or why they rebinded their keyboard shortcuts, or why their window management is terrible. A clean working environment allows me to allocate more mental resources on the task at hand, resulting in more streamlined code and less bugs.