> I guess that if I was Phaedrus (the protagonist of the book,
> not the one
> from Plato), I would answer Omer like this: I will tell you
> what what a
> good programmer is if you can tell me what "good" is - to ask what has
> quality, one must understand (if not define) quality itself.
Ah, but a "good car" or a "good programmer" is a subset of the "good".
And sometimes defining the subset is much easier.
I'm pretty sure that although Phaedrus could not define the "good" and
couldn't even define a "good english article", he could define a good
mechanical engineer. He described him several times through his book.
Patience, humility, order, respect for exact parts, caring about the
structure, the scientific method for debugging, etc. All those appeared as
parts of the definition. His definition is almost the opposite of what Larry
Wall stated as the "temper of the programmer.
I second Gilad's recommendation for the book. I meet many people who tell me
they've read it and they don't understand why everyone is so excited about
this book. I never knew how to answer them, because I have no idea how can
anyone read it and not understand.