Monday, January 08, 2007

Scott Rosenberg: What Makes Software So Hard

Clearly, people have succeeded in creating amazing software systems that do work, and do serve people's needs. In many cases they are very large, from the scale of the Internet to the scale of enterprise platforms. So it's doable. But when you pick up the rock and look underneath the surface of every one of those systems, you find stories of delay and difficulty and problems. And it seems the software industry tends not to be introspective. There isn't a lot of history; there isn't a lot of examination of past mistakes. In the physical world, the examination of past mistakes and failures, and the application of principles based on what you have learned, is the classic technique of engineering. There is a thread of that kind of post-project review running through the software field, but overall it doesn't seem to be as closely studied or as widely known as it probably should be.

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