I like my Kindle. Love to find stuff there that you don't find in bookstores and probably never will because (a)
it costs a lot of money to kill trees, and (b)
why bother. (Plus I ride in airplanes a lot.)
I especially like to find books that really make me stop and think
, and this is one.
The premise is simple: that computer software is actually a mechanism,
and not just that, it's a mechanism that drives itself.
In other words, that über-nerd game of Robot Wars,
in which two opponents program their robots and then push the "Start" button and from that point on can only watch whatever happens next, really is true. These days we fret about riding
down the road in a futuristic car that drives itself, but we've been doing that for years ... and this car has no windshield, no steering wheel "just in case," and no rear-view mirrors. And, in about 70% of the cases, the projects we build as an industry
fall short of the mark ... 30%+ are stillborn. Problem.
The notion, then, is that maybe mechanical
engineering principles ... certainly, in any case, engineering
principles ... should be applied to the building of software mechanisms too. We're endlessly discussing how we should organize teams from day to day, what color we should paint the ping-pong table next to the espresso bar and so on ... as though we would be directly
affecting the behavior of whatever it is we build. When, in fact, we don't. Can't.
There's no driver's seat for an industrial robot, in which the team that built it may sit.
We pratter endlessly about this "methodology" or that one, when it may well be that all
of them are missing the point. Talking about things that don't matter to the machine. No matter how we did or didn't approach the task of designing and then executing the work of building that machine, the machine will be driving itself to whatever outcome the outcome may be. Either we designed it well or we didn't; we tested it well or we didn't. We say we're done .. okay, here's the Big Red Button. Push it and see. The "Light (Motor)Cycles" sequence from the original movie, Tron,
is true including the breakneck speed.
I'm not doin' it justice, but it sure did make me think.