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Thoughts from the draft

 
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Alistair,
Thanks for joining us. I will be picking up a copy
of your new book. The online version provoked
these thoughts.
I was struck by the similarity between your discussion
of communication and some of the ideas of Jacob
Bronowski concerning creativity in the pursuit of
science. His essays in "Science and Human Values"
touch on (among other things) the act of
recognition.
His description of recognition sounds to my ear a
lot like your description of communication. He
proposes recognition is an assimilation into one's
own experience; you reference the "bridge of
experience" which enables communication,
however imperfect. FWIW, I think your bridge of
experience metaphor captures the essential
activity of education very nicely.
The discussion of deduction in your section on "Individuals"
closely parallels his description of the
scientific method, including subjecting a theory
to test.
Do you see the same sorts of similarities in the
conduct of science as creative activity and the
conduct of software development as "community
writing epic poetry?" He is quite adamant
that science is a creative process, much like writing poetry.
All in all, I enjoyed reading the draft and I
expect that the final book is one I will enjoy
having in my library for continued reference.
Thanks again,
Joe
 
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It's fun to wax philosophical, and I love cognitive psychology, but ultimately, my aim is to describe software development, not something else. I'll let other people working in those other areas pull over what they want out of it.
In that context, I can't comment about scientific inquiry very much. I try to use scientific inquiry in my work: hypothesis, experiment, test, reflect. My software development is done less scientifically, although there is certainly an element of experimenting with the code.
The net result is, I'll trust your analogy to Bronowski's writing, rather than try to invent one here online. cheers,
Alistair
 
Joe Gilvary
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Well, there are many folks here in the forum that
want to hear from you on software development, but
if you later get the chance to wax philosophical...
Bronowski included "cybernetics" in his
definition of science in these 30+ year old essays.
He held that doing science is a creative activity,
in its essentials similiar to creating poetry. (He
also wrote poetry.)
You have won acclaim for your thoughts on the software
development process ("doing science" ) and for your
poetry. Do you believe that software development and
writing poetry are different facets of creativity
(when each is done well)?
Is it possible that writing teams, actors with a
visible rapport that enlivens their performances
together, musicians, etc. could provide good parallels
for software development teams that "click?"
Thanks again,
Joe
[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: Joe Gilvary ]
 
Alistair Cockburn
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I may have thrown it out, finally, but for several years I held onto an article describing the process behind the TV series, Frasier. The people were discussing the need to have multiple writers in the same room, the need to play off each other, build on each others' comments and jokes, etc.
This is exactly design. I've seen and used this in hardware design, software design, and in writing humorous poetry (e.g. the gag poetry that clubs produce for their annual parties, and what James Noble and co. produce for EuroPLOP). It also holds in scientific theory construction.
Clearly inventing designs, theories, and humor use that "building on chance comment" notion.
In my case, I find that writing poetry and writing methodology text are very similar. In each case, I try to describe what one person experiences to another person so the second person can "taste" it. e.g. I watched Ward Cunningham manipulate CRC cards and then wrote a text trying to describe what he was doing - very similar to describing the feeling of diving off a high dive.
 
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