Saturday, March 24, 2007

Are you an engineer? (and a joke)

CH quotes from The Inmates Are Running the Aslum who quotes an old joke. Here's the joke:
Coding Horror: The Rise and Fall of Homo Logicus:

Three people are scheduled for execution: a priest, an attorney, and an engineer. First, the priest steps up to the gallows. The executioner pulls the lever to drop the hatch, but nothing happens. The priest claims divine intervention and demands his release, so he is set free. Next, the attorney takes a stand at the gallows. The executioner pulls the lever, but again nothing happens. The attorney claims another attempt would be double jeopardy and demands release, so he is set free. Finally, the engineer steps up to the gallows, and begins a careful examination of the scaffold. Before the executioner can pull the lever, he looks up and declares, 'Aha, here's your problem.
Yeah, I might do something like that. It's a good test to see if you're an engineer-type. The rest of the post is worth reading too, it's really a rant that "engineers" need to realize that their customers are usually not like them. That's very true, but it's not just engineers who fall into this trap. The single most important thing I was taught about product management was never to assume that I resembled the customer in any significant way. I had to be taught this, I didn't figure it out on my own -- but once I heard it I knew it was true.

My (few) readers may think that it's obvious that I don't resemble many people, but, to be honest, at some unconscious level, I thought I was pretty typical. I think this is a common misapprehension among engineering types -- it's probably related to having a touch of autism. My guess is that there are some neural configurations that are prone to this self/other error, and some aren't.

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