Context Assists Appreciation

When we are exposed to a new thing, we might not at first see its full grandeur. After a bit of context and perspective, our appreciation for that thing may increase substantially.

Subjects are Deep and Broad

There are so many fields of study in this world. Many of them have been around for a long time (eg, any study of our natural world)! When we are first exposed to a new field of study or a new idea, we see the surface. We don’t know what the expert of many dedicated years knows. Similarly, subjects are broad. We may not even know what another human being has discovered in this field of study during his cursory investigations of the same. He may have found something new and foreign to us that we have not experienced ourselves.

Code You Didn’t Write

One of the most fascinating and fantastic things about software is the extreme malleability of the medium. You can make something out of nothing. The somethings that we make can take any shape. Thus the method of problem solving varies much from craftsman to craftsman.

Given the size and lifespan of many software projects today, you’ll see and get to work with code that you didn’t originally write. You may open a file, run through the code, and remark, “what was he thinking when he wrote this?!” – as if he wasn’t thinking what you’re thinking. And he wasn’t. But he was thinking. In his implementation he had a perspective – a context consisting of many things. The combined forces of his knowledge, experience, the team, the timeline, the leadership, the company culture, company growth stage, tool availability, operational environment, customer expectations, clarity of requirements, evolutionary stage of the product, and on. We don’t see things now as that original craftsman did. We have a new context through which we’re interpreting things and making decisions. Were we to see more clearly the context under which this software was created, our appreciation for the person and the product would likely grow.

Crossing Disciplines

In software teams, and any large endeavor, we employ the specialties of many people to make something larger and more interesting. A cross functional team may consist of a software developer, ui/ux designer, product manager, operations engineer, data scientist, and more.

The thing that we create together, we can generally all appreciate. But do we see as clearly the expertise brought to the team from each of these disciplines? Sometimes we may feel that one of these disciplines is lacking and letting the project down. A bit more context into the depth and breadth of the subject may increase our appreciation of that discipline and the people attempting to perform it. It’s hard, it’s deep, it has taken time, effort, and focus to get to the current level of performance – just like your own discipline. If performance is really lacking, help that person. But before judging too harshly, try to gain some context, and it might assist your own appreciation.

What is something that you once didn’t have much appreciation for but after some investigation and added context grew in your appreciation?