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Research on social issues

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  • Vinicius Manhaes Teles
    Hello, I m a M. Sc. student and I m runnng a research on social issues that affect software development. In particular, I m very interested to know how a
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 30, 2002
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      Hello,

      I'm a M. Sc. student and I'm runnng a research on social issues that affect software development. In particular, I'm very interested to know how a process like XP deals with social issues among team members and between costumer and development team. AFAIK, XP practices addresses many of these issues.

      What I would like to know is if there are studies showing the benefits of XP practices to solve at least some of the social issues that affect a development team. So far, I've read a very interesting article on pair programming and I wonder if there are others out there about other XP practices.

      Regards,

      Vinícius Teles

      Improve It - www.improveit.com.br
      Applied Software Engineering
      R. Rodrigo de Brito, 28 - Botafogo
      Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 22280-100, Brasil
      +55-21-2542-9968
      +55-21-9228-5434


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ron Jeffries
      ... I would have said that XP /is/ a method for dealing with social issues, and guiding how issues shall be resolved, socially. What do you mean when you say
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 30, 2002
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        Around Tuesday, July 30, 2002, 6:48:53 PM, Vinicius Manhaes Teles wrote:

        > I'm a M. Sc. student and I'm runnng a research on social issues that affect software development. In
        > particular, I'm very interested to know how a process like XP deals with social issues among team
        > members and between costumer and development team. AFAIK, XP practices addresses many of these issues.

        I would have said that XP /is/ a method for dealing with social
        issues, and guiding how issues shall be resolved, socially.

        What do you mean when you say "deals with social issues"? What do you
        mean by "social issues"?

        Ron Jeffries
        www.XProgramming.com
        The rules are ways of thinking, not ways to avoid thinking.
      • Vinicius Manhaes Teles
        Ron, Firstly, thanks for the answer and also for the questions. In this context, I m calling social issues every issue that affect a software development
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 31, 2002
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          Ron,

          Firstly, thanks for the answer and also for the questions.

          In this context, I'm calling social issues every issue that affect a
          software development project that are not related to technical problems. For
          instance:

          * Misunderstandings in communication
          * Misunderstandings in requirements interpretation
          * Politics
          * Conflict resolution between customer and development team
          * Need to review contracts when scope is fixed and requirements change

          There are many others that you and the folks in this list know much, much
          better than I do.
          I'd like to take the chance to tell you a little more about this research
          and you might give me some opinions on it's relevance because I might be
          off-track and I really need some feedback.

          I'm rather young and I'm not as experienced as most of you are. I received
          my bachelor degree about 3 years ago. So far I've been working on some
          development projects using OO with a focus on web development. In my short
          experience I could notice very well what books have been showing for years:
          software development projects have a very high failure rate. I've been
          facing many problems in these projects that are just not related with
          technology at all. Most of the problems seem to be related to what I'm
          calling social issues or non-technical issues or whatever phrasing that
          would suite better.

          So now, as I started my M. Sc. course I'd like to study these issues and how
          the developers are dealing with them in order to make better projects. XP
          seems very interesting to me since it seems to focus in the team behavior.
          That looks promising to me.

          A few days ago, I've read an article were the author was pointing out that
          one of the differentiating characteristics of our industry is that there is
          no fundamental software theory. He claims:

          Despite all the research done by computer scientists, there is no equivalent
          in software for the fundamental laws of physics. This lack of theory, or at
          least the lack of practically applicable theories, makes it difficult to do
          any reasoning about software without actually building it. By Philippe
          Kruchten.

          After reading that, I began to ask myself: if there were such theory, how
          would it look like? Would it be based on exact things like maths or physics?
          Or would it be based on inexact things like human interaction, communication
          and others?

          Based on what I've studied and seen so far I begin to believe that what we
          really need to do is to focus on the social issues since software
          development seems to be a social-intensive activity. And if that is the case
          we have a situation here. AFAIK, computer science courses don't usually give
          much attention to these social issues, They're rather technical and maybe
          they shouldn't be, since software development is a social-intensive task.
          But that's just an hypothesis and I might be definetly wrong. That's why I'd
          like to know what you folks think of it. You've got much more "war stories"
          and knowledge than me.

          Relating all of this to XP, another hypotesis is that if there are many
          sucessesful projects that used or are using XP and XP addresses many of
          these social issues, that might be reasobable to say that XP or any other
          process will be more or less successful depending on how much they address
          these social issues. But, once more, that's just an hypothesis.

          Thanks for any feedback.

          Best regards,

          Vinícius Teles

          Improve It - www.improveit.com.br
          Applied Software Engineering
          R. Rodrigo de Brito, 28 - Botafogo
          Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 22280-100, Brasil
          +55-21-2542-9968
          +55-21-9228-5434
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Ron Jeffries" <ronjeffries@...>
          To: "Vinicius Manhaes Teles" <vinicius@...>
          Cc: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 9:57 PM
          Subject: Re: [XP] Research on social issues


          > Around Tuesday, July 30, 2002, 6:48:53 PM, Vinicius Manhaes Teles wrote:
          >
          > > I'm a M. Sc. student and I'm runnng a research on social issues that
          affect software development. In
          > > particular, I'm very interested to know how a process like XP deals with
          social issues among team
          > > members and between costumer and development team. AFAIK, XP practices
          addresses many of these issues.
          >
          > I would have said that XP /is/ a method for dealing with social
          > issues, and guiding how issues shall be resolved, socially.
          >
          > What do you mean when you say "deals with social issues"? What do you
          > mean by "social issues"?
          >
          > Ron Jeffries
          > www.XProgramming.com
          > The rules are ways of thinking, not ways to avoid thinking.
          >
          >
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          >
          >
        • jeffgrigg63132
          ... I contest the literal truth of his statement, as we have over 50 years of successful use of formal mathematical Automata Theory to use as the basis for
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 31, 2002
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            --- "Vinicius Manhaes Teles" <vinicius@i...> wrote:
            > [...] an article were the author was pointing out that
            > [...] there is no fundamental software theory. He claims:
            >
            > "Despite all the research done by computer scientists, there is
            > no equivalent in software for the fundamental laws of physics.
            > This lack of theory, or at least the lack of practically
            > applicable theories, makes it difficult to do any reasoning
            > about software without actually building it."
            > -- Philippe Kruchten.

            I contest the literal truth of his statement, as we have over 50
            years of successful use of formal mathematical Automata Theory to
            use as the basis for some computing tasks. Parsing languages, such
            as computer language syntax and regular expressions, are well
            understood.

            A book:
            http://www-db.stanford.edu/~ullman/ialc.html
            A 50th anniversary celebration:
            http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~automata/

            However, I would agree that Automata Theory does not say much about
            typical business software development projects. It does not have
            much to offer to make these projects successful.


            > After reading that, I began to ask myself: if there were such
            > theory, how would it look like? Would it be based on exact
            > things like maths or physics? Or would it be based on inexact
            > things like human interaction, communication and others?

            Automata Theory is very math based. But perhaps what business
            software development needs is something based on human psychology.
          • jeffgrigg63132
            ... Computers and tools today are amazingly powerful. Pretty much if you can imagine a computer doing something (and you have a reasonable amount of time and
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 31, 2002
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              --- "Vinicius Manhaes Teles" <vinicius@i...> wrote:
              > [...] software development projects have a very high failure
              > rate. [...] Most of the problems seem to be related to what I'm
              > calling social issues or non-technical issues [...]

              Computers and tools today are amazingly powerful. Pretty much if
              you can imagine a computer doing something (and you have a
              reasonable amount of time and money to make it happen), you can do
              it. "Nothing is impossible." I like to say. "It's only a matter of
              time and money."

              I'd say that aside from social issues, about the only other thing
              that causes projects to fail is poor selection of tools and
              technologies -- reliance on tools that don't meet your needs, in
              terms of reliability, performance, and or functionality. But then
              tool selection is also a highly social process. ;->

              I'm sure that any and all of us can tell you many war stories about
              failed projects and the crazy social and interpersonal problems that
              contributed to the failure. The hard part, however, is to find good
              techniques that will help you avoid such problems. Is there a
              psychology of systems development that can direct us towards
              consistently successful practices? Well that's an interesting
              question... ;-> (If you find one, please let us know!!! ;-)
            • John Carter
              ... And for the most part it is used in every day Computing as much as an engineer designing a car uses Quantum Mechanics... We use regex s everyday the same
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 31, 2002
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                On Wed, 31 Jul 2002, jeffgrigg63132 wrote:

                > --- "Vinicius Manhaes Teles" <vinicius@i...> wrote:
                > > [...] an article were the author was pointing out that
                > > [...] there is no fundamental software theory. He claims:
                > >
                > > "Despite all the research done by computer scientists, there is
                > > no equivalent in software for the fundamental laws of physics.
                > > This lack of theory, or at least the lack of practically
                > > applicable theories, makes it difficult to do any reasoning
                > > about software without actually building it."
                > > -- Philippe Kruchten.
                >
                > I contest the literal truth of his statement, as we have over 50
                > years of successful use of formal mathematical Automata Theory to
                > use as the basis for some computing tasks.

                And for the most part it is used in every day Computing as much as
                an engineer designing a car uses Quantum Mechanics...

                We use regex's everyday the same way as engineers use transistors
                everyday, without thought for the Quantum Mechanical/Automata Theory
                origins.

                I think Kruchten's remark is grossly misleading. We have all of
                mathematics as the fundamental laws of computing. What we lack is a suite
                of practical laws for understanding human interactions.

                Geoffrey James' Tao of Programming, is, as usual, spot on....

                There was once a programmer who was attached to the court of the
                warlord of Wu. The warlord asked the programmer: "Which is easier to
                design:an accounting package or an operating system?"

                "An operating system," replied the programmer.

                The warlord uttered an exclamation of disbelief. "Surely an
                accounting package is trivial next to the complexity of an operating
                system," he said.

                "Not so," said the programmer, "when designing an accounting
                package, the programmer operates as a mediator between people
                having different ideas: how it must operate, how its reports
                must appear, and how it must conform to the tax laws. By
                contrast, an operating system is not limited my outside
                appearances. When designing an operating system, the
                programmer seeks the simplest harmony between machine and
                ideas. This is why an operating system is easier to design."

                The warlord of Wu nodded and smiled. "That is all good and well,
                but which is easier to debug?"

                The programmer made no reply.

                -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"


                --


                John Carter Phone : (64)(3) 358 6639
                Tait Electronics Fax : (64)(3) 359 4632
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              • Ron Jeffries
                ... With some others here, I d deny this. Software does have fundamental laws, and they are better understood than those of physics. And those laws are just as
                Message 7 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                  Around Wednesday, July 31, 2002, 6:11:34 PM, Vinicius Manhaes Teles wrote:

                  > Despite all the research done by computer scientists, there is no equivalent
                  > in software for the fundamental laws of physics. This lack of theory, or at
                  > least the lack of practically applicable theories, makes it difficult to do
                  > any reasoning about software without actually building it. By Philippe
                  > Kruchten.

                  With some others here, I'd deny this. Software does have fundamental
                  laws, and they are better understood than those of physics.

                  And those laws are just as useful to people writing software as the
                  laws of physics are to people building houses.

                  Ron Jeffries
                  www.XProgramming.com
                  "How do I get to XP?" "Practice, man, practice."
                • Ron Jeffries
                  ... OK. Sure, XP addresses these kinds of things: arguably it is mostly /about/ these things. Some brief notes to help connect your thinking ... Lots of
                  Message 8 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                    Around Wednesday, July 31, 2002, 6:11:34 PM, Vinicius Manhaes Teles wrote:

                    > In this context, I'm calling social issues every issue that affect a
                    > software development project that are not related to technical problems. For
                    > instance:

                    > * Misunderstandings in communication
                    > * Misunderstandings in requirements interpretation
                    > * Politics
                    > * Conflict resolution between customer and development team

                    OK. Sure, XP addresses these kinds of things: arguably it is mostly
                    /about/ these things. Some brief notes to help connect your thinking
                    to the XP writings:

                    > * Misunderstandings in communication

                    Lots of communication; on-site customer; planning game; pair
                    programming.

                    > * Misunderstandings in requirements interpretation

                    on-site customer; planning game; customer tests.

                    > * Politics

                    One team; everything is public; planning game.

                    > * Conflict resolution between customer and development team

                    again, on-site customer; planning game; customer tests.

                    > * Need to review contracts when scope is fixed and requirements change

                    XP mostly doesn't think this way. XP is about scope/requirements
                    changing. We think they always do.

                    Ron Jeffries
                    www.XProgramming.com
                    XP says: Don't just sit on your DUF, do something. Get some feedback.
                  • John Lindsey
                    ... laws, and they are better understood than those of physics.
                    Message 9 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                      Ron Jeffries said:

                      >>With some others here, I'd deny this. Software does have fundamental
                      laws, and they are better understood than those of physics.<<

                      OK, I'll bite... :)

                      Care to list a few of the fundamental laws of software?

                      --
                      John Lindsey mailto:nisroc@... http://www.foobox.com/~nisroc
                    • Bryan Dollery
                      Hi Ron, ... Wow, that s a bold statement - what Laws were you thinking of Ron? ... Cheers, Bryan
                      Message 10 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                        Hi Ron,

                        > > Despite all the research done by computer scientists, there is
                        > no equivalent
                        > > in software for the fundamental laws of physics. This lack of
                        > theory, or at
                        > > least the lack of practically applicable theories, makes it
                        > difficult to do
                        > > any reasoning about software without actually building it. By Philippe
                        > > Kruchten.
                        >
                        > With some others here, I'd deny this. Software does have fundamental
                        > laws, and they are better understood than those of physics.

                        Wow, that's a bold statement - what 'Laws' were you thinking of Ron?

                        > And those laws are just as useful to people writing software as the
                        > laws of physics are to people building houses.

                        :-)

                        Cheers,

                        Bryan
                      • Bryan Dollery
                        Hi Guys, ... Why are people here arguing with Kruchten? His conclusion is sound, and is exactly the same conclusion Kent, Ron, Ward, and others reached a few
                        Message 11 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                          Hi Guys,

                          > Despite all the research done by computer scientists, there is
                          > no equivalent
                          > in software for the fundamental laws of physics. This lack of
                          > theory, or at
                          > least the lack of practically applicable theories, makes it
                          > difficult to do
                          > any reasoning about software without actually building it. By Philippe
                          > Kruchten.

                          Why are people here arguing with Kruchten? His conclusion is sound, and is
                          exactly the same conclusion Kent, Ron, Ward, and others reached a few years
                          ago - that currently the best information we can get about a software
                          system is to build it.

                          An illogical argument doesn't necessarily lead to the wrong conclusion.

                          Cheers,

                          Bryan
                        • Ron Jeffries
                          ... I was thinking, as were other posters, of automata theory, turing machines, and the like. One might want to add in category theory, set theory, number
                          Message 12 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                            Around Thursday, August 1, 2002, 6:01:44 AM, John Lindsey wrote:

                            > Care to list a few of the fundamental laws of software?

                            I was thinking, as were other posters, of automata theory, turing
                            machines, and the like. One might want to add in category theory, set
                            theory, number theory, and a bunch of other math stuff.

                            As for laws like Newton's, that we learned in grade school, those
                            aren't even laws of physics. All the laws of physics are so
                            mathematical that I can't understand them.

                            Unless Wolfram is right, in which case, I just can't lift the book to
                            find out whether I understand it or not.

                            Ron Jeffries
                            www.XProgramming.com
                            Analysis kills spontaneity.
                            The grain once ground into flour germinates no more. -- Henri Amiel
                          • Ilja Preuß
                            ... and frequent releases, I would think. Regards, Ilja ______________________________________________________________________________ ich.bin@cool.ms - nur
                            Message 13 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                              > > * Misunderstandings in requirements interpretation
                              >
                              > on-site customer; planning game; customer tests.

                              and frequent releases, I would think.

                              Regards, Ilja
                              ______________________________________________________________________________
                              ich.bin@... - nur eine der witzigsten E-Mail-Adressen der Welt!
                              Interesse? Klicken! http://digitaledienste.web.de/MyAdress/?mc=021104
                            • jeffgrigg63132
                              ... On the social side, I ll also recommend something Ron recommended to me: The Core Protocol , as described in the book Software for Your Head (ISBN:
                              Message 14 of 14 , Aug 1, 2002
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                                > Vinicius Manhaes Teles wrote:
                                > > [...] research on social issues that affect software development.
                                > > [...] social issues among team members and between costumer and
                                > > development team. [...]

                                --- Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@a...> wrote:
                                > I would have said that XP /is/ a method for dealing with social
                                > issues, and guiding how issues shall be resolved, socially.

                                On the social side, I'll also recommend something Ron recommended to
                                me: "The Core Protocol", as described in the book "Software for Your
                                Head" (ISBN: 0201604566) and available for download from their web
                                site: http://www.mccarthy-tech.com/

                                Described briefly, I say that if you want to form teams and make
                                them "gell" quickly and consistently, use the Core Protocol. It's
                                designed to do that. (Teams that don't "gell" are remarkably
                                *IN*effective.)

                                I can't claim to have any experience using the Core Protocol /
                                Software for Your Head, but it looks very promising to me.
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