The Poetry of Programming

This article popped up in the JavaOne Today newspaper so ubiquitous at the conference. It’s a fascinating interview with Richard Gabriel, an engineer at Sun, who thinks that software engineering is less about engineering in the sense of building a bridge and well…

Writing software should be treated as a creative activity. Just think about it — the software that’s interesting to make is software that hasn’t been made before. Most other engineering disciplines are about building things that have been built before. People say, “Well, how come we can’t build software the way we build bridges?” The answer is that we’ve been building bridges for thousands of years, and while we can make incremental improvements to bridges, the fact is that every bridge is like some other bridge that’s been built. Someone says, “Oh, let’s build a bridge across this river. The river is this wide, it’s this deep, it’s got to carry this load. It’s for cars, pedestrians, or trains, so it will be kind of like this one or that one.” They can know the category of bridge they’re building, so they can zero in on the design pretty quickly. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Another tidbit from the article was the mention of Paul Feyerabend, “… who argued that for knowledge to progress, people must violate some of their methodological principles.” What methodological principles have you violated today?

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