The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.-- Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
This seems to me that the Software Engineer is an engineer unlike any other. Instead of having a physical world which will respond as expected or clearly not the Software Engineer must shape thought itself into a disciplined structure. The material that is to be formed, welded, shaped, beaten on, or engineered is the minds of all the people interacting with the software.
What is a Website? A Torrent? A Blog? Or an Instant Messege? How are they different? Why do we care? These ideas are the stuff of the Software Engineer, the raw materials of the builder of castles in the air made of air.