Monday, August 10, 2009

Trying to learn how to walk like the heroes we thought we had to be

The brilliant Boy Howdy scribe Lester Bangs once wrote, "A hero is a goddamn stupid thing to have in the first place and a general block to anything you might wanna accomplish on your own."

He wrote this even as he shamelessly idolized (and in the next breath, often demonized) Lou Reed. Lester, like most great originals, was aggressively (even proudly) contradictory.

The rest of us mere mortals are just as contradictory - I think the difference is that we usually try and reign in (or otherwise hide) this 'flaw'.

I'm not sure when consistency became king. It's great for a lot of things - take for example the discipline of engineering. Which is just one of the reasons I contend that software development != software engineering (in fact, that there is no such thing as software engineering).

There are certainly elements of software development that require engineering-like rigor. For these elements, I am fanatical about consistency. This is for the low-level stuff, naming, implementation patterns and idioms - the kind of thing that is within the realm of checkstyle. But architecture and design, even when applying common patterns and using a common (ubiquitous) language, lives more within the world of art than it does science.

The more we embrace this, the better off we'll be.

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