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Writer's Workshops and the Work of Making Things by Richard P. Gabriel

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Author/s : Richard P. Gabriel
Publisher : Addison Wesley Professional
Category : Other
Review by : Kyle Brown
Rating : 9 horseshoes
Every fall, just after school starts, some of the finest minds in object-oriented programming depart for an extraordinary conference in an improbable location. Held at a turn of the century mansion hidden among the corn fields of central Illinois, the PLoP (Pattern Languages of Programs) conference is one of those rare, magical events where everything you know about the way the software world works is turned on its head.
Instead of "acolytes" gathering around the feet of the "master" to hear the same talk that he gives at every other conference, experienced folks like Richard Gabriel, Ralph Johnson, Kent Beck and Ward Cunningham sit and give personalized advice about how the patterns and pattern languages written by first-time authors can be improved and strengthened. It's a place where you might find out one of your dinner companions has written four books on OO design and speaks at conferences twelve times a year, while the other is a new graduate student just getting started in the field.
How does this occur? And why do people keep coming back year after year? The key is in the primary innovation of this conference -- bringing the notion of an Author's Workshop to computer science. Richard Gabriel is the person who introduced that idea to the computer science community, and he writes lucidly and joyfully about the wonder and the terror of Author's workshops in this delightfully agreeable little book.
In this volume, Richard describes how the Author's workshop came out of the creative writing and poetry community, and provides a roadmap for carrying out a writer's workshop. He describes the benefits of the process, and gives sage advice to the participants in such workshops. He draws his stories and examples from his varied experiences in workshops in both communities (software and literature) and explains why such an unlikely way of doing things has come to be so valued and cherished by the software patterns community.
So, if you've wondered why people in the software patterns community are so set on the way they run their conferences, read this book and you'll understand why. But that's not the only value; reading this book can give you insight into how to improve your own writing in any genre, and how to marshall the resources of your communities to improve the quality of your work. I'm hooked on this process, and I'm delighted that I finally have something to refer people to so that I can share some of the magic of this unconventional way of teaching, and learning.
More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
[ August 06, 2002: Message edited by: Book Review Team ]
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