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Metaphor again (was RE: [XP] Threading)

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  • Laurent Bossavit
    ... Most excellent... I m starting to think of the practice as Thinking in Metaphors (and call it that in writing). Explaining Metaphor by way of the notion
    Message 1 of 17 , Feb 26, 2002
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      > Our meetings suddenly (and naturally) turned into discussions about
      > the use of the application.

      Most excellent...

      I'm starting to think of the practice as "Thinking in Metaphors" (and
      call it that in writing).

      Explaining Metaphor by way of the notion of System of Names gave
      wrong idea, it seems to the me - the goal isn't to make up One Good
      Metaphor out of which fall all of the names, thus nearly all of the
      design. If it was possible to do all of the design at one go, we
      wouldn't need XP.

      Rather, thinking in metaphors is the "stretching" part of our mental
      workouts; it increases flexibility and primes the mental muscles for
      violent activity - when we really attack the problem instead of just
      dancing around them. (I don't much like *that* metaphor but somehow I
      can't think of a more appropriate one...)

      When we're actually dealing with the design issues in our
      conversations, and doing so effectively, appropriate names will
      suggest themselves when coding.

      In the spirit of Ron's Etudes piece, some things I've done or that
      I'd like to do to build up metaphoric thinking skills would be...

      Play analogy games inspired by Hofstadter's puzzles. There are a
      bunch of those, all of them in my opinion worth practicing, but the
      form I like best is the one derived from "X is to Y as Z is to ?"...
      except that only two reference points are explicitly fixed. You get
      to decide what the analogy "turns" on. Examples will be best :
      * what is the ObjectMentor of France ?
      * what is the Enron of Germany ?
      * what is the Smalltalk of Pragmatic Programming ?

      Make up "forced" analogies and use them to generate metaphors in the
      rhetorical sense (i.e. not similes or other figures of speech), not
      necessarily meaningful. E.g. "the RendezVous messaging bus became the
      hard rind around the cheesy crust of the market simulator".

      Discuss an arbitrary subject without using any metaphorical phrases.
      Set an objective in advance for the conversation, such as learning
      one professional experience of each participant that was not
      previously known to the others. Take note of whether the restriction
      to unmetaphorical speech eases or hinders in achieving the objective.

      Discuss a technical subject, banning a list of relevant technical
      words, e.g. "speed, algorithm, performance, implementation (etc.)" in
      a discussion of how profiling may be used to improve the performance
      of an application.

      If and when metaphors become easier to come up with, let them be used
      freely in a conversation... But have participants do their best to
      misinterpret the speaker's metaphor so that she no longer makes any
      sense; bonus points for turning the speaker's intended meaning around
      to its opposite.

      Famous Last Words : no, they're not dangerous.
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