Just like lawyers
No, similar to them, not befriend them
Just like lawyers
According to Peter Drucker we are all becoming "knowledge workers" - using our brains not our brawn to manipulate and improve our world. Well the original knowledge workers may think we are Johnny-come-latelys to the party. Let us vanish into the mists of time, so cast your minds back, back into the depths of history, say to the court of the Pharoahs.
(unusual wobbling and strange Theramin-like music)
The all powerful Pharoah has had enough. Rameses the Unlikely Cockney III makes his voice ring out around the pyramids.
I send out my decrees, my word is like that of the gods, but by the time it gets to the other side of my empire the bloody word is mangled and misinterpreted. It's like Chinese whispers around here I tell you. Oi you - scribe. I've got an idea. Write down my next decree then my soldiers can take that piece of parchment over to the other side of the empire and your mate can read it out - that way no bugger can conveniently "misunderstand me" - OK?
And lo, the Pharoah's word was written down, and his decrees were like the word of the gods.
Cor blimey me old mucker, we need a good name for this system, Scribe. What shall we call it? Lawrence. Can't call it Lawrence - silly name. Shorten it. Call it, rence. OK? No. Thats no good. Lawren? Law? La?
And so the Scribe writes down his masters words, but over time Rameses the Cockney makes so many pronouncements, that even he forgets what he was on about, and the scribe must refer back, to different and probably conflicting pronouncements. And the Scribe must then interpret the law, because obviously Rameses did not mean to contradict himself.
And the written word starts to take on more importance than the actual words spoken by Rameses. All those merchants and civil servants can refer to one shared set of decisions, and even come to a shared agreement on what those words really meant. I mean Rameses can't be everywhere pronouncing on every little thing can he? So people read what he said, and work on that basis.
And some societies thrive, their laws fitting the time and the environment, and some, their laws unsuitable or unchanging do not thrive, sometimes held back by their own "source code", other times destroyed by invading armies, where frankly a lawyer is not much help.
(wibbly music and 1950's FX bring us back to the present day)
So what happens when someone invents a new way to write things down, a new means called programming. Society suddenly has a new way to define how it wants to run its own affairs. This time there are advantages. Previously we we were creating a model of how we want the world to work, then describing that model in words, hoping that the other side would interpret the model in the same way we do. Enormous amounts of legal effort and training go into ensuring each lawyer will interpret the same words in the same way - like building compilers into human heads. Now we can describe the model in source code, and actually see the model run, ensuring that the other side does not need to have a "shared compiler" in their heads. It will make understanding the implications of law simpler, easier to transfer to different countries and legal environments.
And those who wrote things down, become those who can interpret what was written down. The scribes become the lawyers, arguing over precise defintions of piddling little words, whilst trying to recognise that sometimes their writings can affect millions.
Its a bit like programmers arguing over a little bug in a million lines of source code, whilst trying to remember the code is for a missile, a power plant a banking risk manager.
In fact its a lot like it ...
I sometimes buy lunch and eat it in Middle Temple in London. The Temples are amazing, entire streets, almost mini towns, full of gorgeous architecture, cramped streets and nothing but lawyers, lawyers as far as the eye can see. The Temples are a walled off world (perhaps in more than one way) sitting in the middle of London, with open grass spaces, nice views and (afaik) no cubicles. Just offices. Well appointed offices.
It is a little bit of professional jealousy, but professional is the point. Software developers will become professional - not like wearing suits, but like having a code of ethics, and a professional body.