"Like Scrivener but for programmers": ideas from non-programmers?

Do you have ideas about adopting concepts/workflows from other workers? For example:


Just downloaded Scrivener. What if you could look at a sourcecode file as layers of git commits associated with pinboards of: a smiling user’s pic, blackboard scrawls, email snippets…


Many programmers never meet a single user! Every sprint, they’re handed The Spec from Product Owners. Making The Spec is a process maybe like: fieldwork → description → programmable theory (The Spec).

That description – with theory in the service of description, not the other way around – sounds like an anthropologist’s ethnography. Especially since many ethnographies are an anthropologist’s gift back to those she lived with – offering insights into stuff they questioned, fought or took for granted.

A program can be your present to the people you immersed yourself with.

BTW there’s some fun ethnographies written for lay audiences, some of which even question their own existence.

fastfood workers

Useful perhaps as a cautionary tale. Fastfood (as in McDonald’s) is ideally about replaceable employees allowed to only use safe tools/materials.

One backend employee could move her body dextrously enough to outdeliver 4 typical employees, with greater quality. You’d initially think many employers would hire a few like her, pay her double + bonuses, and reduce manager staff. But for say McDonald’s, that must be incredibly rare. (Perhaps aside from franchises employing family & friends?) For many owners, hotshot burger-slingers strutting around like they own the place sounds dangerous. At best, they should become management, limited in number.


Artists sketch, model, reference, prototype, study, then make a thing.

Cooks and Bakers for prep and mise en place, prepare what you need to minimize running elsewhere during some time-critical piece.

Teachers try to understand a thing before they convey it, knowing full well the power of a poorly formed opinion, heuristic, or rule.

Soldiers know no plan survives contact with the environment.

Stylists take a high level directive “make me look good”, combine it with your ideas of how to achieve that, and use their expertise to nudge it in the right direction.

Musicians know that mistakes can be mitigated but they can’t be completely prevented. It’s often more important to keep playing than try again. Most people won’t notice anyways.

Mathematicians are heir to a couple of millenia of tradition and consistently rewrite sections of the rulebook when they can’t work around the holes anymore.

Athletes get their sleep and take injury seriously.

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