One Secret to Quality Software

They ask us for quality. What is “quality”? “Well, free of defects.” (Oh it’s a lot more than that.) What is a “defect”? “Well, when it doesn’t work like we expect it to. Like we agreed it should.” Trust me, you didn’t specify how it works. That’s my job, as a developer. To organize all … Read moreOne Secret to Quality Software

Soft, or hard like mud

Soft skills are hard. “They take work to build and work to apply.” @ruthmalan The word “hard” describes sciences like physics and chemistry. It is confusing that “hard” can mean difficult, because these sciences aren’t more difficult than the “soft” ones like sociology and anthropology. They’re differently difficult. The “hard” sciences are hard because they’re … Read moreSoft, or hard like mud

Reasons, heuristics, and revealed intentions

In a complex system, we can’t predict consequences. As Cynefin expresses it: in complexity, we determine causality in retrospect, not ahead of time. So how do we make decisions? We have to guess, try things, see what happens, react to that. We use reasons and heuristics. There are some consequences we do predict, and these … Read moreReasons, heuristics, and revealed intentions

Growth Loops: circular causality is real

A few hundred years ago, we decided that circular causality was a logical fallacy. All causes are linear. If something moves, then something else pushed it. If you want to see why, you have to look smaller; all forces derive from microscopic forces. Yet as a human, I see circular causality everywhere. autocatalytic loops in … Read moreGrowth Loops: circular causality is real

When knowledge is the limiting factor

In Why Information Grows (my review), physicist César Hidalgo explains that the difference between the ability to produce tee shirts vs rockets is a matter of accumulating knowledge and know-how inside people, and weaving those people into networks. Because no one person can know how to build a rocket from rocks. No one person understands … Read moreWhen knowledge is the limiting factor

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

a telling question. This puzzler says something about our culture. It says we think in terms of causes that happen before their effects. That we don’t believe in reflexive causality. In life, everything interesting is a circle. The mitochondria breaks down sugar, the proteins use the energy, they keep up the cell wall, the cell … Read moreWhich came first, the chicken or the egg?