Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pairing can make you stupid...

Pretty much everyone has heard of or tried pair programming. I personally have found it to be quite valuable. One very interesting thing I was reminded of when watching some people on my team do some pairing is how dumb pair programming makes the typer. Conversely, it also makes the watcher (don't know what it's really called) considerably smarter.

I can vividly remember pairing with someone much smarter than me on a transaction logging system a few years back and noticing this effect. When he was typing, I was always coming up with the cool ideas. Of course it's not always an intelligence thing. Around the office I have noticed multiple pairs demonstrate this. The typer becomes dump. The non-typers make excellent judgments and decisions.

I think the obvious explanation for this is just how much energy we put into things like typing, picking variable names, formatting, etc... I've often joked that we should hire secretaries with a little programming knowledge for each programmer.

Has anyone else out there noticed this? Is their anything to be gained from this observation? Or am I completely off base.

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