Understanding Poetry

The first few pages of Fred Brooks’ The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist are… how shall I say this… dry. Like listening to a philosopher whose work long ago degenerated into a recursive attempt to define itself.

In an earlier paper, I divided the tasks in building software into essence and accident. (This Aristotleian language is not to denigrate the accidental parts of software construction. In modern language the terms would more understandably be essential and incidental.) The part of software building I called essence is the mental crafting of the conceptual construct; the part I called accident is its ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz…….

This was a bit disappointing to someone with fond, formative and possibly – I worried, briefly – rose-coloured recollections of The Mythical Man-Month. It was a tough enough slog that a chapter and a half into The Design of Design (and they’re short chapters) I left it on my bedside table for a week to gather dust and guilt.

Tonight I got through to the end of chapter 3, and the tone is… different.

If you feel inclined to tackle this book, I think one way to approach it is to think of the first two chapters as Brooks leading us through Understanding Poetry, by Dr J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D.

Chapter 3 is where Brooks chimes in and calls it excrement.

Obviously I’m not very far into the book yet, so if I do have a review it’ll come much later, but for a bit of flavour I just want to quote the very end of chapter 3:

The Waterfall Model is wrong and harmful; we must outgrow it.

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