Why "Deviser & Artifex"?

[definition goes here -- darn OED is too expensive!]
n. One who devises.
v. t. [imp. & p. p. Devised (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Devising.] [OF. deviser to distribute, regulate, direct, relate, F., to chat, fr. L. divisus divided, distributed, p. p. of dividere. See Divide, and cf. Device.]
  1. To form in the mind by new combinations of ideas, new applications of principles, or new arrangement of parts; to formulate by thought; to contrive; to excogitate; to invent; to plan; to scheme; as, to devise an engine, a new mode of writing, a plan of defense, or an argument.
    To devise curious works. Ex. CCTV. 32.
    Devising schemes to realize his ambitious views. Bancroft
  2. To plan or scheme for; to purpose to obtain.
    For wisdom is most riches; fools therefore They are which fortunes do by vows devise. Spenser
  3. To say; to relate; to describe. [Obs.] Chaucer.
  4. To imagine; to guess. [Obs.] Spenser.

When we got business cards at Desktop.com we had to choose our own job title. After a couple of days of thinking, I chose Deviser & Artifex with the help of my friend Seth.

I wanted something that sounded good, was representative of what I did, and was unusual. I chose the title because it sounds a bit old-fashioned, refined, and slightly mystic. I thought about titles like "Bit Monger" and "Code Smith", which I had heard before, but to me they sounded a bit rough.

Seth suggested "Artifex", which he found in the OED. I had also heard of the term through Neal Stephenson's book The Diamond Age where it is used for a master nanotechnological engineer. (I didn't remember this at the time, but was reminded of it later.)

"Deviser" actually came from the the OED's definition of "artifex". This might seem redundant, but I think there is a subtle distinction between the two. To me, a "deviser" is someone who designs and creates, while an "artifex" is someone who uses their skill and craft to render the design real.

To me, designing and writing software is more than a job -- it's a skill and an art. Lots of people can cobble together a program, but not many can do it well. Likewise, many people can design software, but often the design isn't quite right: it's too rigid, not foresighted enough, or just plain bad.

I can't say that I do everything right, but I try. I find that the work that I am most proud of comes from interacting with other smart, interested developers.