The Perils of Programming as Puzzle

A section of a jigsaw puzzle with one piece missing
  1. The interviewer wasn’t convinced I was a “real” computer scientist, or suspected that I had otherwise slipped through the cracks of the systems that would normally weed out obvious imposters, and this was a last ditch attempt to reveal me for the sham I was.
  2. The interviewer found my work or my background so boring or irrelevant that the only thing they could think to do during our 1:1 time was to default to asking basic programming questions “to see how I think” as a sort of interviewer autopilot. Or, somewhat relatedly, viewed such autopilot questions as a standard hazing practice that somebody had to do, just to get out of the way.
  3. As a hybrid option, the interviewer wasn’t sure what a research scientist was or how one might help them in their work, but suspected that some (or many) of them were useless talkers or dilettantes who couldn’t do things that “really count” (like write code), and so was trying to identify such useless parasites at the jump.

Abstraction and Alienation

Braggadocio and Blandness

Capture and Collaboration

So What Should We Do About It?

Treat computer science work as labor

Treat computer science work as impactful



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Michael Correll

Michael Correll


Information Visualization, Data Ethics, Graphical Perception.