Andy Pols CTO, Entrepreneur

Some random thoughts...

Interative vs Evoutionary

I had an interesting conversation with Tom Gilb at XTC. Tom pointed out something obvious (don’t you hate it when that happens). He argued that the phrase iterative is not that descriptive. Tom prefers the term evolutionary.

My dictionary supports his argument. It defines iterative as marked by tedious repetition, while evolutionary is defined as a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. Much better.

This got me thinking that Evolutionary Development is a much better phrase for explaining to new people what the whole thing is about. We are building software that evolves, not software that iterates!! I wonder why we started using the term iterative?

Best Practices are not the Best Practice

Some agile people have started using the term best practices to describe what they do (such as pair programming or TDD). There are a couple of problems with this.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a best practice! Practices always depend on a context. These practices are not best in all situations. Sometimes you may not need them; sometimes you’d be better off doing something else. People rarely place the best practice in a context.

Secondly it sends out a negative message; we’re the experts and you don’t know what you are doing. While this may be true, it is not the best way of motivating and inspiring people to change!

It turns out that principles are more important then practices for getting people to change. If people understand the principles behind something they are better placed to recognize which practices best fit their need and why a particular practice would be worth adopting.

Fun reading material

A friend left some books at my place… This one caught my eye. Something opening with must be a good read:

When asked the question, what is consciousness? we become conscious of consciousness. And most of us take this consciousness of consciousness to be what conciousness is. this is not true.

The Origin of Consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind by Julian Jaynes.