Getting Real – A pdf Book Worth Reading

kinnon —  March 7, 2006 — Leave a comment

Along with about six other books, I’m reading Getting Real from the folk @ 37Signals. It’s a very good book – supposedly about building great software – the kind of software that 37Signals designs.

But really it’s about the creative process and is applicable to any creative endeavor. The book is filled with great quotes, like this one from Andrew Hunt:

Emergence is one of the founding principles of agility, and is the closest one to pure magic. Emergent properties aren’t designed or built in, they simply happen as a dynamic result of the rest of the system. “Emergence” comes from middle 17th century Latin in the sense of an “unforeseen occurrence.” You can’t plan for it or schedule it, but you can cultivate an environment where you can let it happen and benefit from it.

…Many common software development practices have the unfortunate side- effect of eliminating any chance for emergent behavior. Most attempts at optimization – tying something down very explicitly – reduces the breadth and scope of interactions and relationships, which is the very source of emergence.

The harder we tighten things down, the less room there is for a creative, emergent solution. Whether it’s locking down requirements before they are well understood or prematurely optimizing code, or inventing complex navigation and workflow scenarios before letting end users play with the system, the result is the same: an overly complicated, stupid system instead of a clean, elegant system that harnesses emergence.

Keep it small. Keep it simple. Let it happen.

It reminds me a little of the Blake poem, Ode to Joy

He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternitys sun rise

Magic only happens in places where there is freedom. Where there is command and control, the “winged life” is destroyed.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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