Geoscience, reservoir engineering, and code

We’re in the middle of a second creative revolution driven by technology. “Code” is being added to the core creative team of art and copy, and the work being made isn't like the ads we're used to. Code is enabling the re-imagination of everything. Aman Govil, Art, Copy & Code

Last year at Strata I heard how The Guardian newspaper has put a team of coders — developers and visualization geeks — at the centre of their newsroom. This has transformed their ability to put beautiful and interactive graphics at the heart of the news, which in turn transforms their readers' ability to absorb and explore the stories.

At the risk of sounding nostalgic, I remember when all subsurface teams had a dedicated and über-powerful tech, sometimes two. They could load data, make maps, hack awk scripts, and help document projects. Then they started disappearing, and my impression is that today most scientists have to do the fiddly stuff themselves. Woefully inefficiently. 

The parable of the coder

Give someone 20 sudoku to solve. They'll sit down and take a day to solve them. At the end, they'll hate their job, and possibly you, but at least you'll have your solutions.

Now, give a coder 20 sudoku to solve. They'll sit down and take a week to solve them — much slower. The difference is that they'll have solved every possible sudoku. What's more, they'll be happy. And you can give them 10,000 more on Monday.

Hire a coder

The fastest way out of the creeping inefficiency is to hire as many coders as you can. I fervently believe that every team should have a coder. Not to build software, not exactly. But to help build quick, thin solutions to everyday problems — in a smart way. Developers are special people. They are good at solving problems in flexible, reusable, scalable ways. Not with spreadsheets and shared drives, but with databases and APIs. If nothing else, having more coders around the place might catalyse the shabby pace of innovation and entrepreneurship in subsurface geoscience and engineering.

Do your team a favour — make the next person you hire a developer.

Image: Licensed CC-BY by Héctor Rodríguez, Wikimedia Commons.