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Communications of the ACM

Practice

Documentation Is Automation


Documentation Is Automation, illustration

Credit: Pablo Prat

Let me tell you about two systems administrators I know. Both were overloaded, busy IT engineers. Both had many repetitive tasks to do. Both wanted to automate these tasks. After observing these two people for a year, I noticed that one made a lot of progress, while the other one didn't. It was not a matter of skill—both were very good software engineers. The difference was their approach, or mind-set.

I would say the successful one had a mindset of always thinking in terms of moving toward the goal of a better automated system. Imagine an analog gauge that points to the left when measuring that a process is completely manual but slides to the right as progress is made toward a fully autonomous system. The developer mindset is always intent on moving the needle to the right.


 

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