Archive for October 2012

Programmers and their beards

There’s an oddity that many good programmers seem to have. Beards. It’s a facial feature that many people seem to see as something that ‘comes with the territory’ of being a programmer. Unshaven, smelly, obese, these would all be things that would pop up in people’s minds when they think about programmers, or even computer experts in general.

I’ve found this thought fascinating because I know a lot of programmers without beards whose hygiene is excellent. But then again, there are some famous examples like Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson who still have huge beards. Why? I started asking myself this. Is it so people can measure your skill by measuring the length of the hairs? Is it just fashionable?

Beardy programmers

So I decided to find out myself and began growing my beard to be infiltrate into the psyche of these fine gentlemen.

First things first: I really CAN NOT grow a beard. It does gets all patchy and rough but it just looks like I forgot to shave certain parts of my face. Bummer.

However, looking as ridiculous as I did with my half beard, I came to an exciting insight. Because what I did for myself was set these ‘beard-lines’ (just roll with it) for when I had to finish a certain part of my project. Let’s say that I was working on some big feature in a project. I would tell myself that I would not be able to shave until I’d finished this work. This has helped me more than I’d expected. The biggest boost I got was thanks to social control. Because when I was unshaven someone would inevitably make a remark about it. This in turn gave me an extra boost to hurry up my project so that I could shave myself once again.

My time among the bearded people was a short-lived one but it gave me a new way of pushing myself that extra bit, which is great. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to grow a full beard and unlock the full potential of it, but until then I’ll have to stick to my trusted patch of fur.