In the spirit of Richard and Ron's literature list, I also have some
on-line articles that might be of interest...
For engineering artifacts that purport to break paradigms but are
actually the same old thing.
That shows Feyerabend's philosophy applied against tonal paradigms in
Note especially the Eggcup Place Card idea as an image of what half-
open software should be!
What's the point? Man is a model maker. It is our way of dealing
with the complexity of the universe. We simplify and generalize and
compartmentalize until the world is pressed down into neat categories
and walls are built around them. This is not necessarily a bad
thing. It does aid to the efficiency of our lives (and research).
We all work within stovepipes. Some, like the laws of physics, we
can do little about. The social constructs we can change.
Software is simply a reflection of the society that makes it. As
such, we button it up and wrap it in a ribbon and send it out the
door. Users demand simplicity but then rail against it when it bumps
against their precious notions of "freedom".
And what of the links above? I don't know. I just found them at
random. I spun some reason about how they might fit within the model
of Feyerabend's (anti-)program. Maybe they do. In any case, any
reading list is still an attempt to set an agenda, even one that may
be benign or helpful. One must ask if it is really in the spirit of
the anarchy that Feyerabend proposes to set such boundaries.
In any case, I found it very simple to find Feyerabend's book. I
went to my public library. They had three copies. Just think! The
same type of hierarchical organization that provides bad software can
provide me with a "hard to get" (maybe at a right-wing, Facist,
private school like Stanford :-) -- Actually, my sister-in-law works
at the B-school there. Does that make me a traitor to the cause?)
book on philosophy! Maybe it's not the organization, or the method,
but the economic system behind the organization or method that's the
problem. Just thinking here.
Finally, I believe, like the ancients, that we get knowledge in one
of two forms - mythos and logos. Logos is the explicit, rational,
analytical explanations that have been useful in constructing our
modern world. Mythos is the account having figurative significance
and is often used to bring meaning and "non-handbook" answers to
problems. The world of programming (like most of our world since the
Enlightenment) has a paucity of mythos. Early work on Patterns
seemed to be an attempt to add mythos to programming (C. Alexander's
TWoB is almost entirely mythos), but the Gang of Four shot that down
pretty damn quick with a logofication of the concept that was more
palatable for the rationalists out there. XP has a promising start
to bring a semi-mythic approach to project management, but it is
rapidly being brought into the logos fold by rationalization. Or is
this simply the way of the academic world? Can we any longer further
science by over-rationalizing methods, or is a shot of mythos
precisely what we need?
And then again, maybe the Dada-ists were actually raincoat...
Just some random thoughts from an amateur philosopher and
professional software developer.
Frank A. Adrian