Just watched Boone Gorges break down the ubiquitous motto.
If not poetry, what is code? Gorges suggested craftsmanship, architecture, bridge-building, collaboration, engineering.
None of those is text. Each of those has associative materials that could connect a perceivably banal thing with beauty: wood is craft, steel is architecture, mathematics is bridge-building, software development is collaboration and engineering.
Like poetry, code is text. So why not connect with text in its most beautiful form—poetry? No other kinds of text really work: journalism, prose, novels, articles, signage, though they may exhibit craftsmanship, don’t convey beauty as purely as poetry.
His intention was not to change the motto, but rather to be critical of pervasive idealism. He mentioned that many coders have come to the project precisely because of this desire for a more creative platform. But I would argue that if it’s that much of a danger to the project’s future, it should be dropped, not altered, or even criticized, since it’s perfect as it is.