'Creating by exertion of the imagination...'

Ryan posted this great excerpt yesterday:

I'm in the midst of reading "The Mythical Man-Month" by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. on the recommendation of my boss. For those who don't know, "The Mythical Man-Month" is a collection of essays on software engineering. It was originally written in 1975, but still applies to today's development environment. I was reading the first essay today, entitled "The Tar Pit" and came across a description of why developers have such satisfaction/enjoyment in their job. As I often have trouble quantifying what it is about software engineering I find so enjoyable, especially when talking to non-techies, I found this (abbreviated) excerpt particularly well written.

"First is the sheer joy of making things. As the child delights in his mud pie, so the adult enjoys building things, expecially things of his own design.

"Second is the the pleasure of making things that are useful to other people. Deep within, we want others to use our work and to find it helpful.

"Third is the fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts and watching them work in subtle cycles, playing out the consequences of principles built in from the beginning.

"Fourth is the joy of always learning, which springs from the non-repeating nature of the task. In one way or another the problem is ever new, and its solver learns something: sometimes practical, sometimes theoretical, and sometimes both.

"Finally, there is the delight of working in such a tractable medium. The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures."

While I find all points to ring true, the last three really strike a chord with me. So far I've been very impressed with this book, I'd recommend it to all interested in the complex art of managing and developing software projects.

Nice thoughts... Definitely a book to pick up. Was it really written 3 years after I was born? Have we progressed so little?!?


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