Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Coders, Musicians and Cooks

In a light hearted Twitter exchange yesterday I asked why so many coders also played guitar. Mark Seemann suggested that there was also a high correlation with cooking.


How about a survey? Mark and I have over 4000 twitter followers between us so I was sure we could get a few of them to click a few radio buttons, with no promise of reward, but with the warm feeling that they were helping to progress the anthropological understanding of the coding tribe. So I created a survey and waited for the results to stream in. Of course, as Rob Pickering pointed out, this kind of self selecting survey is very unscientific, but fun nonetheless.

What have we learnt?

  1. It is ridiculously easy to create an online survey using Google Drive. Just click ‘new form’, type in a few questions, and Bob’s yer uncle. It automatically builds a nice summary graphic on the fly as the survey progresses (see below).
  2. Most of Mark and I’s followers are C# coders. 81%. That’s not really surprising.
  3. More coders cook than play musical instruments: 85% verses 53%. That’s not really surprising either. I expect if you took a survey of the general population you’d find quite a high percentage who cook verses those who play.
  4. Guitar is by far the most popular instrument among coders. 30% play guitar. This confirms my hunch, but doesn’t answer my question – why it’s such a high percentage.

Here is the Google Drive graphic of the results.



ploeh said...

There's a hypothesis that attempts to explain that there seems to be an over-representation of musicians and foodies amongst techies.

I didn't come up with it, but it goes something like this:

Many techies tend to be introverts. They choose a technical vocation because it fits their personalities better than being e.g. salespeople.

Introverts tend to prefer stimulus that focus on themselves. Actually, while it may seem counter-intuitive, introverts are quite sensual people, in the sense that they are much more closely tuned into their own senses (hearing, sight, taste, etc.) than extroverts. If this is true, it's only natural that more introverts would be heavily involved with music and food. Movies and art, too, I'd think.

Unknown said...

I play all the instruments listed, so arbitrarily chose guitar. I think guitar is more popular simply because it is more accessible to learn (lots of programmers are autodidacts), portable, and unlike e.g bass or drums, does not require other band members to perform songs (as ploeh points out - introverts like hobbies they can do alone).

I don't do the whole cooking thing though. Bacon and eggs is about my limit.

Mike Hadlow said...

A lot of people complained saying that there should have been checkboxes instead of radiobuttons, but hey, it was a 10 minute job :)

As I said on Twitter, don't mistake me for someone who actually knows how to construct a survey :p

Cooking's an interesting one. I am very lucky to be married to an excellent cook, so I'm generally kept out of the kitchen. But I think if I was given a free hand it's something I could really get into.

Unknown said...

I don't have anything definitive, but the first boss in a programming job I had said that he would not hire anyone who didn't play some instrument. He had a belief that there is a connection in how the brain works. In music and code you have to play by the rules, but improvise and embellish within them.

Interesting thought.