Friday, June 12, 2009

Twitter: The Quest for the Ultimate One-Liner

This month Time Magazine is publishing an article on how Twitter is revolutionizing society. Sigh.

For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, it's like Facebook's status messages but it's 24x7. You subscribe to your friends/colleagues/celebrity status updates to know what everyone is doing all the time. They call this activity "Tweeting", which to me sounds more like human flatulence than anything else. It looks something like this:

"@Starbucks writing this status message"
"Enjoying this nice sunny day"
"@conference learning about Agile software development"

Of course the above are not ultimate one-liners by any stretch of the imagination :)

It strikes me that these social networking sites are nothing more than the shameful quest to come up with the ultimate one-liner. It reminds me of the character Lord Henry Wotton in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, charming and witty but with no true substance.

Why not write a real short story? Or a poem? Instead of broadcasting all the details of your life to a bunch of strangers, why not commit your most profound thoughts to your close friends and family?

My real problem with Twitter or Facebook for that matter is that we really don't see a complete story. We see only the part that we wish to expose to the public, and this to me is ridden with shallowness.

Time Magazine might call it a revolution, but I think it's meaningless entertainment. The ultimate high school popularity contest. The winner will have the most followers with the most interesting one liners. I might have to paint some bloggers with the same brush. All fluff, no substance.

I'll admit that I've been drawn into Facebook from time to time, but I think I would be just as happy (perhaps happier) if I had never created an account. A friend of mine once said to his daughter who had over 700 friends on Facebook "if you truly have 700 friends, you are the shallowest of persons I know." Humans really only have room for 10-20 real relationships, so why fool yourself into thinking otherwise?

End Rant.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pragmatic Architecture

I'm attending DevTeach 2009 in Vancouver and saw my colleague Ted Neward give a talk on this subject.

What the argument boils down to is this: good solutions architecture should enable success by default. The goal seems clear, but getting there is the tricky bit. Practicing good solution's architecture (according to Ted) involves multiple dimensions including:

  • Understanding technical and business requirements

  • Understanding constraints, like budget and release dates

  • Reassessing the two points above constantly

  • Aligning and educating your team with the solution architecture

Architect's are educators. They are technically proficient, and are capable
of backing up ideas or diagrams with code. They work with the business to
understand both the functional and non-functional requirements. They can
help the business get what they want sooner, and don't introduce technical
complexity without good reason.

Architecture is one of those topics in software development that screams with controversy. Ted mentioned today a the biggest reason why is that software development as a science is still in its infancy. Compare us to other disciplines like building architecture, which has been around for thousands of years. We've really only been on the map for the past fifty.

I'm encouraging Ted to publish his slides, because the idea of an Architectural Catalog or Taxonomy is going to be essential for us, as an industry, to grow up. I want to echo the need for software developers to start thinking about architecture beyond just what frameworks we're using, but understanding the business and team constraints as well.

Let's hope we get to a software architecture renaissance soon. Could you be the next Michelangelo of software?