A rantbox by Michiel Scholten

About mages

As Alex pointed out, computer literates are not the most important mages. He's completely right, and I didn't intend to put it that way. I've far more respect for the modern day medical specialists and technical engineers. However, why only count a "real life" engineer a modern day mage? OK, it's far more difficult to engineer an airplane, but most people don't do that on their own. If you design a large piece of software, and do that right [which isn't quite that easy, as most of you will know], than I tend to call that kind of people mages too. There's lots of things to consider when building a [large] piece of well engineered software, as is with engineering an airplane, car or building. I've more respect for software engineers than for people that just know their ways really well in software land [as my original post was about], so indeed, the latter category is the least powerfull on my mage scale. However, in the world of ancient mages you had various kinds of mages too; mages that just knew how to impress the people of their town [some neat, but quite simple tricks with leafs, gunpowder, whatever], comparable to people who are really confident with handling pc software. But you had really powerfull mages too [just watch/read Lord of the Rings], who earn more respect and are maybe comparable to modern day practical scientists, like medical people and the proverbial rocket scientists, who can achieve true miracles.

I disagree with calling my grandpa a modern day mage. How much I respect both of them, they aren't mages in my sense of the word. They just performed the ancient [but somewhat difficult ;)] trick of finding the Right Woman(tm) and make love. The magic at work here is the giant thing I call Mother Nature, which is truly magical in itself.

And to take the point of software engineers/programmers/hackers being less than "real life" engineers, because they create something virtual instead of something you can hammer your head against; I don't see the sharp line between those two worlds. First, software is nowadays a fundamental part of our lifes. Modern day airplanes wouldn't exist without the existence of software. That software even takes care of lots of safety procedures and can land a plane completely autonomically when something odd happens with the crew. And how more important is a physical bridge in comparison to some often used communication program which brings people and oftentimes family members from over the whole world together?

So, my point here is that people who really know how to write good software [which is _really difficult_; just try to design a good UI] are as true modern mages as rocket scientists, airplane engineers and hospital doctors. Of course I've more respect for the medical staff that revives people from death or rebuilds someones life when something truely bad happens to him, but those people are aided big time by computers and well designed software. Indeed, people just being fast with shortcuts are not white mages, but in software land there are really great sorcerers who deserve our awe as much as the designer of the plane I'm going to take next vacation or the engineers who build the gigantic halls where that plane was build.