Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From crossover comes breakthrough

One of the biggest sins in software development industry is "knowledge hubris". Software engineers are "natural born specialists" (not all of them, but I guess that a vast majority could fit under this definition), people who have a deep knowledge of some technical aspects and have a tendency to "drill down" for a deeper knowledge of a specific topic. Experience helps in defining what's the better balance for the situation, enabling you to make decision based on a superficial knowledge (and maybe some expert's advice) instead of studying the whole stuff before taking any decision step. Given that software engineering is a profession that needs continuous refreshment of the acquired knowledge, and that the field is constantly enlarging, reading more books in a shorter time is probably the only viable option.

Many of us think this is enough.

I had a couple of loads delivered by Amazon in the last two weeks. So I have fresher books about Software Architecture, Project Management, Software Development Process, Software Security, Grails, Groovy, Ruby, SAP and so on. I looked at the pile and felt somewhat disappointed: "looks like I am merely changing the perspective on the same stuff", or maybe I become too much influenced by Amazon's recommendations. While browsing some books bibliography (in a childish attempt to score more than 50% books read) I realized that probably the more interesting perspective could come from the books I've never heard of. Agile movement brought a lot of external influences into the software development field: SCRUM introduced elements from process engineering (that were quite obvious for process engineers, if only anybody thought about asking…), Cockburn and DeMarco and Lister analyzed deeply the human factor which is predominant in software development, both in terms of self organization and team dynamics, bringing anthropology, communication science and psychology into play. After all, in software development the rough material is people, but most of us focus primarily on technology forgetting that, unlike technologies, there is no obsolescence in people.

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