The last couple of days I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that I have a LOT of useless preconceptions about coding.

One of the first is that less is more. The shorter the code, the more elegant it is, right? I’ve definitely heard people talk about elegant code. It’s a thing.

Now, I know that Hollywood takes this idea to ridiculous extremes. In movies, with just a few keystrokes (probably made while having a gun held to your head, or in free fall, or inside an alien mothership that inexplicably runs OSX) you can accomplish almost anything!

Graph showing how silly hacking in movies is

(Image taken from

I’m not expecting to reach Christopher-Lambert-in-Fortress levels of code brevity. But I was under the distinct impression that the fewer lines of code you wrote to accomplish a given goal, the better that code was.

Another preconception is the power of the arcane! Code looks completely opaque to the uninitiated… it’s basically magick*, and there’s a part of me that wants to write condensed code with abbreviated variables and occult method names. After all, I know what it means - I can save myself a few dozen keystrokes if I shorten everything down, and if my code is cryptic enough, I may be mistaken for a wizard!

Ice King from Adventure Time

Anyway, I’m splitting this post in two as I’m pretty wiped out from a long day at the course, followed by a trip to the cinema to see an extraordinary documentary about the human condition, told exclusively through close ups of orang-utans’ faces. I’ll get to my reconceptions tomorrow!

* In a broader sense I believe that technology actually is magick, mind. So far this year I’ve used a scrying glass (webcam), seven league boots (train, uber), magic mirror (google), flying carpet (airplane), telepathy spell (mobile phones), conjuration (amazon now) and goodness knows what else! We’re all living the lives of wizards!

(Extra science fiction and fantasy references added to please Joe Nash.)