Music to code to

Well, Microsoft loves its developers and wants to know what makes them tick. So it asks them what music they like to code to - apparently, the "winner" was something by Coldplay (whoever they are - and what will this do to their street cred, anyway). And HMV Digital have made a radio station specifically for UK developers, 'Music to Code To', available online as a "top station" (subscription needed) - "because developers want to listen to what other developers listen to". They do? Changed since my day then - I used to code to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring".

Anyway, being even sadder than a Coldplay-loving (must find out what they are) programmer, I asked Ian Moulster, Product Manager for Developer and Platform Evangelism, just what the significance of this research was.

"It's just a bit of fun", he said. But, he's found out that developers like to listen to music while they work and more of them like pop music than Bach. That makes them very different from the rest of the world, doesn't it?

I did extract something valuable from the conversation, however. It appears that people work better when they can control their working environment, so managers should provide "music while you work", and that tastes differ. That sounds new and exciting.

Perhaps we should give developers in open plan offices headphones, so that their choice of music isn't imposed on everyone else. That makes sense to me (giving them rooms with a door makes even more sense) - what would we do without companies like Microsoft to sponsor this sort of ground-breaking research?

It's rather a pity, though, that as a high-tech company, it didn't go that little bit further and do a proper piece of research, with a statistically significant sample, analysis of variance and testing of the null hypothesis. It would be interesting to know if programming to music was more productive than programming in silence, for example; and whether it produced fewer mistakes. And perhaps there's a correlation between musical taste and code quality. What a missed opportunity - this could have revolutionised IT recruitment!

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